Michael Borovetz Arrested in Michigan in Connection With Long-Running Beggar Scam

H. Michael Borovetz, a Pennsylvania poker player widely known throughout the poker community for a series of petty scams stretching over many years, was arrested on Sunday in Detroit on years-old warrants connected to perhaps his favorite scam, a beggar’s routine inflicted upon fellow travelers asking for small loans, which then went unpaid.

Borovetz, 44, was removed from a plane at Detroit Metro Airport by Wayne County Airport Authority Police Department officers after they received a tip that he would be passing through the city, on a stopover on a longer trip from Seattle to Miami. Borovetz was wanted on charges dating from 2015 related to his scam, in which he told fellow travelers a fake tale of being stranded without funds. Borovetz begged the other travelers for short-term loans, which he would promise to quickly repay, but never did.

Michael Borovetz’s latest mug shot

Borovetz was arraigned in suburban Romulus, Michigan on two misdemeanor counts of false pretenses with intent to defraud. However, as authorities looked into his past, they discovered his long, long past history of running the same petty scam, over and over again: He has been convicted of similar offenses in 13 different US states.

“He’d escort them to the ATM, they’d withdraw a couple hundred dollars and give them to him and he’d promise to pay them back,” said Thomas Zahina, a deputy chief at Detroit Metro Airport. “We had arrest warrants in hand, and we knew he would be passing through our airport, and so we were able to take him off of a flight.”

In the latest instance, Borovetz was assigned a $100,000 bond (reduced to 10%, or $10,000, if paid in cash), and remained in jail at last report. The unusually high bond for misdemeanor charges reflects the ongoing, unrepentant nature of his petty crimes. Unlike the beggars commonly found in any major city, who are technically receiving small gifts with no promise of repayment, Borovetz asked for short-term loans instead. He would then, as he brashly admitted in 2014, add the funds to his gambling bankroll and never contact his victims to repay, as previously promised.

Whether playing poker — Borovetz has nearly $600,000 in recorded tournament cashes — or degenning money away at other casino house-banked games, he has shown little or no remorse for his activities. Instead, he’s claimed it as an addictive-gambling issue, though admitting it and seeking help are two different matters.

Instead, it appears Borovetz honed his beggar’s routine into something that amounted to a part-time job, occurring whenever he happened to be passing time in an airport terminal waiting for a flight. Poker writer Mo Nuwarrah discovered that fraud-reporting site Scambook had received 43 separate complaints about Borovetz since 2013. Given that Borovetz has already been convicted or received plea deals in 13 other US states (and perhaps in multiple cities within those states), the inference is that he has pulled off the scam hundreds upon hundreds of times, each for perhaps a couple of hundred dollars on average.

Borovetz’s latest problems have returned him to the top of topic lists on several poker forums, where he has received near-universal scorn. Among his other recent legal issues were multiple arrests in Charlotte in 2014 and one last year in New Jersey, all for the same airport-scam activity.

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