The National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) defended its membership and stood by its code of ethics in the wake of National Event Co. (NECO) CEO Jason Nissen being charged with bilking investors of more than $70 million dollars on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by Gary Adler, NATB Executive Director and Counsel.
“NATB Member companies abide by our association’s Code of Ethics, which endeavors to ensure NATB Member companies conduct ticket resale responsibly and provide a positive ticket buying experience for customers,” the statement reads, in part.
Adler also indicated that he has learned Nissen is no longer CEO of NECO. Attempts to confirm this on Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful, as phone calls to the company’s listed number in New York went unanswered on Thursday afternoon. The company’s website – www.neco.com – and Facebook page were also down on Thursday afternoon.
“Importantly, other than the fact that this alleged activity of an individual who was formerly involved in the operation of a ticket resale company, this matter isn’t about tickets, or ticket brokering, or NATB, it’s about an alleged financial crime. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to read similar headlines involving investors across all sorts of industries including real estate, healthcare, the capital markets, and more.”
Nissen is accused in New York federal court of operating a Ponzi scheme where investors thought they were involved in a venture to purchase premium event tickets, but money was actually going to earlier investors.
The New York Post reported that Nissen revealed the scheme to victims earlier this year in an attempt to get them to give him more money to keep the scheme afloat. “I was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Nissen allegedly told one of his victims at a meeting earlier this month. The meeting, at which Nissen also admitted to falsifying records using Photoshop, was secretly recorded, according to authorities.
The NATB’s full statement is below:
“NATB has no additional information on the matter involving Jason Nissen other than what has been reported publicly, and it would not be appropriate to otherwise comment or speculate on Mr. Nissen’s personal legal matters.
I have been notified that Mr. Nissen is no longer with National Event Company, and by extension, no longer associated with the company’s membership in NATB. Importantly, other than the fact that this alleged activity of an individual who was formerly involved in the operation of a ticket resale company, this matter isn’t about tickets, or ticket brokering or NATB, it’s about an alleged financial crime. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to read similar headlines involving investors across all sorts of industries including real estate, healthcare, the capital markets, and more.
NATB Member companies abide by our association’s Code of Ethics, which endeavors to ensure NATB Member companies conduct ticket resale responsibly and provide a positive ticket buying experience for customers. This includes 200% refund protection on guaranteed tickets, which is why so many consumers buy with confidence each year through a NATB Member company.”
Dave Brooks of Amplify Media was harshly critical of the NATB in the wake of the charges, accusing it of “sleeping on the job” while a leader of a member company engaged in allegedly illegal activities. Earlier this year, Joseph Meli and two others were accused of cheating investors out of millions in a similar fashion to the charges Nissen is facing. Those individuals were not members of NATB.
“Where is the National Association of Ticket Brokers in all of this,” asked Brooks after an analysis of how both cases involved tickets to “Hamilton,” whose creator Lin Manuel Miranda has been a vocal opponent of the secondary ticket market. “The group once more has been caught sleeping on the job while one of its esteemed members operated a $70+ million scheme. It’s pretty clear that the NATB is totally incapable of policing itself — what I want to know is who is going to protect us from the NATB’s criminal members?”
Adler’s response to that report struck back against the notion that the NATB can be taken to task for not having initiated measures based on the unknown business practices of Nissen prior to them being made public by authorities and before any action is taken in the legal system.
“Naturally there is a little gossip and tabloid-style reporting with incidents like these, and [Amplify’s report] is consistent with the nature of gossip in that it is wrong and reflects a lack of information,” “This news about Mr. Nissen was made public just yesterday, so it’s outlandish for the blogger to suggest that our trade association should have known about it and taken measures about it before law enforcement did. We operate in the world of real information, not fantasy or storytelling. It is readily apparent that the comments are clearly not based on facts but rather are the result of an axe to grind against brokers, the NATB or both.”