Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Former Math Teacher Charged in Super Bowl, World Cup, 'Hamilton' Ticket Ponzi Scheme

Jason Nissen seems like a swell guy. Fourteen years ago, as a math teacher at a Queens high school, Nissen sold his students tickets to a free Dave Matthews Band concert. And it turns out he's been turning to shady ticket sales tactics ever since to turn a profit.

Nissen has been charged with wire fraud after using a fake premium ticket exchange as the cover for a Ponzi scheme. Nissen's NECO.com told investors it would acquire and resell "premium tickets for events like the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Broadway hit 'Hamilton.'" Instead, it used later investors' funds to pay back initial investors, cheating them out of over $70 million.

Time Ran Out

According to FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.:

Nissen represented his business as an investment opportunity for those willing to finance the purchase of large quantities of premium tickets to a number of sporting events and entertainment venues. The tickets were supposed to be sold for profit, but they weren't. As alleged, Nissen eventually defrauded his victims out of at least $70 million collectively, all of which he used in furtherance of his scheme and for his own personal gain. For Nissen, the final quarter didn't prove as profitable as anticipated; he must now face the penalty for his actions.

Nissen was also allegedly caught on tape telling one of his victims, "I was robbing Peter to pay Paul," and admitting to using Photoshop to falsify records.

Negative Account

Among those victims were a private equity firm and a diamond wholesaler who loaned Nissen tens of millions of dollars to buy tickets to premium events, including Adele concerts and the US Open, believing they would be resold for a profit. But that money went to other investors and himself, according to federal prosecutors:

For example, one victim, referred to as "Victim-2" in the Complaint, gave NISSEN and his ticket business more than $1.9 million to be used for the bulk purchase of tickets to a UFC fight in New York to be resold by NISSEN. Instead of purchasing tickets, NISSEN used the money as follows: (i) he made two cash withdrawals - one for $20,000 and the other for $23,250; (ii) he transferred $383,000 to the bank account of another company he controlled to bring that company's account balance out of a negative balance of about $382,000 to a positive balance of about $578; and (iii) he transferred $1,500,050 to his personal bank account, which had a balance of $88 at the time, and then that same day, NISSEN transferred $1,500,025 from his personal account to another victim to whom he owed money.

Nissen pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud charge and his lawyers had no comment for Reuters or the New York Post.

Related Resources: