TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding three people out of $1.8 million in a concert ticket resale scheme.
According to a Friday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, Thomas Coelho, 53, of St. Petersburg, was sentenced after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge on March 24. He also must pay $1.8 million in restitution and cannot have contact with the people he defrauded, U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber said.
Prosecutors said Coeho convinced people he could obtain tickets to high-profile concerts for artists like Adele, Fleetwood Mac and Phil Collins, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
According to court documents, he told investors that he was a lawyer and a Wharton School of Business graduate and had connections to the entertainment business, WFLA-TV reported.
Coelho would persuade the victims to invest the money, telling them that he could resell the tickets for a profit, the Times reported.
However, Coelho used the money to pay for personal expenses, entertainment, and cash withdrawals, prosecutors said in the news release. He also created fraudulent documents, including wire transfer receipts, to convince his victims the funds were properly invested. He would then convince the victims to invest more money, court documents show.
“You have dug yourself into a very, very deep hole here,” Barber told Coehlo during his sentencing, according to the Times.
One of the victims, Dr. Charles Duva, said he lost $1 million after he was befriended by Coelho, the newspaper reported.
“Mr. Coelho is an extreme danger to humanity,” Duva told the court. “He finds your weaknesses and goes right for your jugular, which is your pocketbook.”
At the time of his arrest in April 2021, Coelho had previously been arrested 15 times on fraud-related charges with three outstanding warrants and several civil injunctions, WFLA reported. The warrants were listed under his former name, Thomas Jurewitz, and covered 20 years, according to the television station.
“Any apology, no matter how sincere, would come across as insincere,” Coelho told the judge. “All I can do is state how sorry I am and how embarrassed I am.”
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