The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that it charged two New York men with an alleged Ponzi scheme in which they told investors they would use their money to buy and resell tickets to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and other popular events.
The men, Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton, misrepresented the purpose of their business to investors, the SEC said, telling them their funds would be used to produce profits on resold “Hamilton” tickets and concert tickets for the pop singer Adele. They instead allegedly used the money for other purposes, diverting nearly $2 million of investor money for personal expenses.
Meli and Harriton, who also face parallel criminal charges from federal prosecutors in New York, falsely indicated to investors that they coordinated with the “Hamilton” producer to buy 35,000 tickets, promising an investment return within eight months, the SEC said. The agency added that the two men allegedly raised more than $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states.
“As alleged in our complaint, Meli and Harriton raised millions from investors by promising big profits from reselling tickets to A-list events, when in reality they were moving investor money in a circle and creating a mirage of profitability,” said Paul Levenson, director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office, in a statement.