Man Sentenced For Ponzi Betting Scheme
A fraudster from Kansas City, Missouri, has been sentenced to eight years and one month behind federal prison bars, and without the possibility of parole. 51-year-old Matthew R. Peterson, who got handed his sentence by US District Court Judge Howard F. Sachs last Wednesday, plead guilty to having run a sports betting investment fraud scheme between 2012 and 2016, during which time he defrauded 37 unsuspecting victims out of at least US$6 million.
Peterson owed up to a count of bank fraud and a count of money laundering, which included his having conned an elderly investor, identified during the court proceedings as “T.C.”, out of the latter’s entire 401(k) retirement fund. But Peterson didn’t stop there, because he also used T.C.’s personal information to gain access to an American Express credit card facility, from which account he illicitly withdrew a further US$249,000.
The Spending Spree
Of the money illegally siphoned from investors, Peterson had reportedly burnt through about US$565,000 for his own personal use, money he spent on a house, a personal gambling spree, expensive vacations, cars, and credit card payments. He also withdrew US$90,000 in cash.
Peterson’s Ponzi scheme involved using around US$3.3 million of the funds he received from new investors to pay others who had been on his books for a longer period of time. By doing this, he managed to scam his victims out of anywhere between US$1,000 and US$100,000, not to mention even the financial institutions and credit card providers he had conned out of nearly half a million US dollars in the process.
Massive Moral Fail
The fraudster had built his entire scheme on lying about being an expert in sports betting. He reportedly lured his investors with tall tales of sports betting investment success, even going as far as making up false financial statements and spreadsheets showing massive “returns”.
But Peterson didn’t stop with potential sports betting investors. He also owned a company registered and operated under the name AIS Travel. Supposedly a discount travel agency, he first tried to persuade pastors at his church to punt his services to the members of his congregation. They denied his request, but agreed to make use of his discount travel agency for staff.
He eventually in November 2016 convinced a group of church employees to move their annual retreat to Cancun, Mexico. He managed to collect a cool US$16,000 from them for travel and accommodation. Only when the 20-person group arrived at the airport to embark on their retreat were they informed that neither air travel tickets nor rooms had ever been booked.