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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CEO And President Of Premium Ticket Resale Business Charged With Engaging In A Multimillion-Dollar Ponzi Scheme Resulting In Losses Of At Least $70 Million

Jason Nissen Is Alleged to Have Told Investors He Was Financing Large Purchases of Premium Tickets to Events Such As the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and “Hamilton,” and Instead He Used Investors’ Money on Himself and to Pay Back Other Investors

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeny Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that JASON NISSEN was arrested and charged in Manhattan federal court today with defrauding victims of at least $70 million by falsely representing that he was using the victims’ money to further a profitable, multimillion-dollar wholesale ticket business.  NISSEN was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court later today. 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Kim said:  “Jason Nissen claimed he was investing in premium tickets for events like the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Broadway hit ‘Hamilton,’ but as alleged, Nissen was actually cheating his investors out of over $70 million and spending it on himself. The veneer of a successful and interesting business was allegedly just that, an alleged cover for a massive Ponzi scheme.”      

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:   As charged today, 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.”

According to the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:[1]

Since 2012, NISSEN has operated a ticket resale business (the “Ticket Company”) located in Manhattan, New York, through which NISSEN purchased large quantities of premium tickets for sporting and entertainment events, and then resold such tickets for a profit.  NISSEN was the Ticket Company’s chief executive officer and president.  

The Ticket Company’s website states that “[The Ticket Company] is an industry leader in providing VIP access and premium tickets to all concerts, Broadway theatre, red carpet premieres and sporting events worldwide . . . the Ticket Company stocks one of the largest revolving inventories for sports, concerts, and theatre worldwide.”

From 2015 to May 2017, NISSEN defrauded multiple victims of tens of millions of dollars through the Ticket Company.  NISSEN represented to victims that he would use money lent to him and his ticket business by victims to purchase bulk quantities of premium tickets to sporting and entertainment events such as the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the U.S. Open, and “Hamilton,” and then resell the tickets at a profit.  However, in truth and in fact, NISSEN used the victims’ money in large part to repay other victims and to enrich himself. 

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. 

To further perpetuate his fraudulent scheme and to raise additional sums from victims, NISSEN falsified financial documents and inflated accounts receivable ledgers, which NISSEN presented to certain victims as purported proof that their money was being used to purchase premium tickets for resale. 

On May 7, 2017, unable to obtain more financing to continue the scheme through existing or new victims, NISSEN admitted to an executive of Victim-2 that he had been operating a Ponzi scheme.  When the CFO of Victim-2 asked NISSEN the next day whether a bank document that NISSEN had previously provided to Victim-2 was forged, NISSEN admitted he had fabricated the bank document.  When asked how he had done so, NISSEN replied: “Photoshop.  Ever hear of it?”  

Two days later, on May 10, 2017, NISSEN told another victim, referred to in the Complaint as “Victim-1,” that he had been committing a fraud and that he had fabricated the income numbers of the Ticket Company that he had been reporting to Victim-1.

In total, JASON NISSEN defrauded victims of at least $70 million.     

*                *                *

NISSEN, 44, of Roslyn, New York, has been charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI and noted that the investigation is continuing. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kan M. Nawaday, Lauren B. Schorr, and Russell Capone are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
17-156
Updated May 31, 2017