GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (WSB/CNN) - About a dozen people have accused a prominent Georgian businessman of running off with nearly $1 million in a months-long Super Bowl ticket scam after taking out a loan on his business.
Victim Alan Tartt alleges Ketan Shah, who owns a digital printing shop and sits on numerous community boards in Gwinnett County, GA, never delivered premium Super Bowl tickets that Tartt says he paid $20,000 for.
“It’s just crazy, mind-blowing,” Tartt said. “Everything seemed legit.”
In November, text messages show Tartt began communicating with Shah, with whom he connected through a mutual friend. He and at least two others told police they started making $5,000 payments to Shah as regular deposits on $20,000 worth of tickets.
But when it came time to meet in late January, Tartt said he couldn’t reach Shah. He went to the police, the FBI and his bank to file reports.
Records show Shah’s mother also contacted police, saying she’d lost $36,000 in the alleged scam. She declined to press charges.
The biggest loss recorded was a $500,000 payment made to Shah by a friend and businessman in Columbus, GA, who said he was promised tickets and a chance to host an arena Super Bowl event.
In total, about a dozen people have reported similar stories, saying they paid Shah for tickets and other Super Bowl-related privileges but never received them.
“It was a similar promise to all the other people who bought tickets,” said Minish Shah, who is not related to Ketan Shah but knows him well through the community. “One hundred level seating with access to the concierge lounge and a few pre-parties. I find the whole situation kind of bizarre, and hopefully, there will be some kind of logical explanation."
Police say Shah scammed the victims out of over $750,000 in Super Bowl payments.
“It’s not that he posted some ad and random people are contacting this guy for tickets and being scammed,” said Cpl. Wilbert Rundles, a Gwinnett County police spokesperson. “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.”
Police records show Ketan Shah’s wife, Bhavi Shah, told authorities her husband had recently taken out a $500,000 loan against the business without her knowledge. She also told police she didn’t know about the alleged ticket scam.
Ketan Shah’s family believes he traveled to Las Vegas at some point, as part of a midlife crisis, according to the records. It’s unclear where he could be now. His wife reported him missing in early January.
Investigators say they want to hear Ketan Shah’s side of the story, especially if the tickets remain undelivered.
“We’d certainly like to get his side and see if there’s something more ... some trouble that he’s been in,” Rundles said. “It’s a very odd situation that you would take people this close to you and scam this kind of money and then just disappear."