CLEVELAND — A Las Vegas sports bettor was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud for running what the U.S. Department of Justice called a Ponzi scheme that defrauded approximately 72 victims, including many in Northern Ohio, out of more than $8.5 million.
Matthew J. Turnipseede, 49, allegedly promised investors in four of his companies double-digit returns, telling them that their money would generate profits through "sophisticated sports wagers" made with the help of an algorithm, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio's office said in a release announcing the charges.
His companies, Edgewize LLC, Moneyline Analytics, Moneyline Analytics Dublin Branch, and another Tunipseede-incorporated company not named in the release, never generated the promised profits, the DOJ says.
Instead, Tunipseede allegedly used the investors' money to "maintain the business, seek new sources of funds, pay off earlier investors and fund personal expenses" such as multiple cars, country club membership and vacations to locales like Disneyland and Hawaii.
The DOJ's allegations cover a six-year period between March 2015 and 2021. The indictment claims Tunipseede gave investors operating agreements that claimed investor funds would be used exclusively on sports bets, for which Turnipseede would not take compensation but would retain "a percentage of the winning profits."
Those profits never materialized, the department said, but investors were periodically emailed financial statements that allegedly showed phony profits. In addition, Turnipseede is also accused of hiring an accounting firm to generate IRS forms based on the fraudulent numbers and using investor funds to cover expenses caused by some investors seeking to withdraw some or all of their investments.
Details of an upcoming trial for Turnipseede were not included in the DOJ's release. The case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI and is prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erica D. Barnhill and Brian McDonough.