A search was underway Friday for an Atlanta-area businessman accused of swindling NFL fans out of more than $750,000 in Super Bowl ticket orders. The alleged victims reportedly include his own mother, whom authorities say gave him money but never received tickets to Sunday's big game between the L.A. Rams and New England Patriots.
Ketan Shah, of Lawrenceville, Ga., allegedly scammed at least five victims in Gwinnett County, then vanished with the money and without delivering the tickets, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
Shah's mother told police her son left with $36,000 she gave him for Super Bowl tickets, Cpl. Wilbert Rundles, a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department, told the station.
"The money totals well over three-quarters of a million dollars,” Rundles told FOX 5. “It is pretty surprising when you would take advantage of a friend or family members, but your own mother? It’s quite troubling.”
Another victim, Neel Shah, unrelated to Ketan Shah, told the station that he was a friend.
“I never got the tickets I wired him $20,000. It was $5,000 per ticket,” Neel said.
Ketan Shah was a board member of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, which said on its website that he had been suspended, the report said.
Another victim, John Brunetti, told Atlanta's WXIA-TV that he met Ketan Shah through his brother-in-law and that the ticket deal seemed like a "sure thing."
“I even had him sign a contract that if he didn’t give me the tickets, he would give me the face value of the tickets so I could at least pay for those on the day of the game,” Brunetti said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, no problem.’”
But more than a month later, Brunetti is "out $50,000," he said.
Brunetti said Shah's wife told him her husband went missing weeks ago.
“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 UGA [University of Georgia] and just skip town,” Brunetti said. “I never in a million years played that into a possible scenario.”
“I just didn’t account for maybe this guy will leave his job, leave his wife, leave his 12-year-old son, his daughter ... and just skip town. I never in a million years played that into a possible scenario.”
Ketan Shah reportedly owns a Digital Xpress printing business in Norcross, where his wife Bhavi Shah told Atlanta's WSB-TV that she does not know where her husband is.
“He’s been roaming all over the town,” she said. “I really don’t know where he is now. I really don’t, I’m sorry.”
Rundles told FOX 5 that Ketan Shah hasn’t yet been criminally charged because the Super Bowl has not been played yet, but after the game, he faces numerous charges of theft by deception.