Two men were arrested and charged on Friday for propagating a Ponzi scheme involving popular shows and concerts. According to the Associated Press, Joseph Meli and Steven Simmons were arrested for allegedly soliciting multimillion dollar investors by telling them of plans to buy blocks of tickets for popular performances, including Hamilton shows and an Adele concert. In a civil complaint, the SEC alleged that the con drew over $81 million in investments from people across 13 states. This being a Ponzi scheme, the SEC says that at least $51 million of the investment money went toward paying off investors or co-conspirators and attending to other personal expenses, rather than towards ticket purchases. Meli and Simmons were charged with criminal conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud, while Meli was named in the SEC’s civil suit. Of the charges, Deputy U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim explains: “Meli allegedly made up out of whole cloth purported deals to buy Broadway tickets that he could later sell at a profit … But as alleged, Meli was just robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Purchasable Hamilton tickets? Pshh, doesn’t exactly take Scooby-Doo and the gang to smell scam.
“Hamilton.” Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage