A Georgia businessman has vanished amid accusations that he swindled nearly $1 million in a Super Bowl ticket scam — including $36,000 from his own mother.
Ketan Shah promised football fanatics premium seats to Sunday’s big game in Atlanta, took their money and then was never heard from again, authorities said.
“It’s just crazy, mind-blowing,” according to Alan Tartt, who told WSB-TV that he plunked down $20,000 for tickets that never showed up. “Everything seemed legit.”
Shah ran digital printing business Digital Xpress in Norcross and sat on the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. Tartt said he had a “squeaky clean” business reputation.
But the shop owner suddenly couldn’t be reached when it came time for him to meet Tartt late last month — prompting Tartt to go to police.
Shah’s mother also told cops she lost $36,000 in her son’s alleged ruse. She declined to press charges.
The accused conman made off with $500,000 from a friend in Columbus, Georgia, who thought he was buying tickets and a chance to host an arena Super Bowl event.
Another victim, John Brunetti, said he was taken for $50,000 for 10 tickets on the 50-yard line.
“Very rarely, we see a Super Bowl come through your city in a lifetime, and this was a great opportunity to get a chance to see some great football,” Brunetti told 11Alive.com.
Brunetti said he met Shah through his brother-in-law and even had him sign a contract that promised he would give him face value for the tickets if they didn’t show up.
“I knew that I couldn’t meet him in person. I just had his business address. I just said it would be easier to mail it to you. I said I know where he lives,” Brunetti explained.
But more than a month after he splurged, Shah disappeared.
His wife, Bhavi, said she hadn’t seen him since Jan. 3 and reported him missing.
“I just didn’t account for maybe this guy will leave his job, leave his wife, leave his 12-year-old son, his daughter who’s at [the University of Georgia] and just skip town,” Brunetti said. “I never in a million years played that into a possible scenario.”
At least three other men from the Atlanta area told police they lost similar amounts.
Bhavi told cops that Shah had taken out a half-million-dollar loan against his business without her knowledge, according to police records. She denied knowing about the ticket scam.
Family members believe Shah traveled to Las Vegas — as part of a midlife crisis — but have no idea where he could be now, police records show.
“Right now, what we know of is just slightly over three-quarters of a million dollars scammed out for Super Bowl-related stuff,” said Cpl. Wilbert Rundles, a Gwinnett County police spokesman.
“It’s not that he posted some ad and random people are contacting this guy for tickets and being scammed,” Rundles added. “He’s known these people for many years. One of them he’s known his whole life because it’s his own mother, and he’s taken advantage of them.”
The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce said Shah has since been suspended. The group has denied any connection to the alleged scheme.
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