The SEC has expanded the scope of the Hamilton tickets Ponzi scheme case, which bilked at least 138 investors in 17 states out of $97 million.
The SEC’s complaint, filed Tuesday, demands a jury trial in the suit that alleges New York City businessmen Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton defrauded sophisticated investors in a scheme to buy large blocks of tickets to additional popular concerts and shows — including the Desert Trip concert series featuring Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones — and resell them at a profit.
The scheme includes advance sales for the upcoming Broadway play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” currently playing in London.
“The case now includes five new parties, including Melli’s mother, that may have received investor funds,” Jay Lippman, managing director at Exiger and the former executive director, compliance at JPMorgan Chase, told ThinkAdvisor Thursday.
“Schemes like this work because the principals behind them appear to be bona fide investment professionals,” Lippman said. “Their LinkedIn profiles, combined with entertainment industry connections and falsified investment agreements made for a compelling-looking presentation. Investors in these types of alternative investments need to scratch beneath that shiny surface.”
As the SEC states, Meli, 42, and Harriton, 52, both live in New York City. They are the direct or indirect owners of Advance Entertainment II. Meli owns 100% of Advance Entertainment which, in turn, owns an 80% interest in Advance Entertainment II.