Florida Man Convicted of Stealing Sports Camp Tuition Funds from 303 Families
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant used stolen funds for plastic surgery, vacations and gambling
BOSTON – A Florida man was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Boston for stealing tuition and deposits from families in Boston, and across the country, who planned to send children to sports camps in the Boston area in July and August 2019.
Mehdi Belhassan, 53, of Tampa, Fla., was convicted following a six-day jury trial of two counts of wire fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Jan. 11, 2024. Belhassan was arrested and charged in March 2021.
Beginning in the fall of 2018, Belhassan falsely claimed that he would operate his annual MB Sports Camps at a Boston-area college. Later, Belhassan announced that the camps would occur at a Boston-area university. Based on these representations, Belhassan collected tuition and deposit payments totaling over $380,000 from at least 303 families in Massachusetts and across the United States, as well as advance payments of $191,000 from an online payment company and a commercial finance company. As part of his scheme, Belhassan provided the lender with a fraudulent contract with the college that contained the forged signature of a college administrator.
“Mr. Belhassan preyed upon the trust of families, promising summer fun while plotting his own indulgence. He lured in, deceived and betrayed over 300 families – diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars not to the promised camps, but to personal pursuits like plastic surgery and extravagant vacations at Las Vegas casinos,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Today's verdict is a testament to our office’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that those who exploit trust for personal gain are held accountable.”
“Mehdi Belhassan stole tens of thousands of dollars from hundreds of hard-working families across the country without a second thought, and with today’s conviction, he has been held accountable for lining his own pockets at their expense,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “During these challenging times, financial fraudsters are doing everything they can to cheat people out of their hard-earned money, while the FBI is doing everything we can to make sure they don’t succeed.”
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting U.S. Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil and Alathea E. Porter of the Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
Updated October 20, 2023