When Jayaben Shah gave her son, Ketan Shah, $36,000, she thought she’d receive Super Bowl tickets in return.
So too did Neel Shah, who has no relation to Ketan or Jayaben Shah, when he sent the Lawrenceville man $20,000.
But they, along with at least three other victims in Gwinnett alone, were wrong.
“I never got the tickets,” Neel Shah said. “I wired him $20,000. It was $5,000 per ticket.”
Just days ahead of the Super Bowl, Gwinnett police are looking for Ketan Shah, who is accused of disappearing with more than $750,000 that was supposed to pay for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The setup, incident reports show, was the same for almost all of the victims: Ketan Shah, a well-connected businessman in Gwinnett who was a board member of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (the chamber has since suspended him from its board) would provide the victims with their requested number of tickets after they sent Ketan Shah their money.
But that never happened, said Cpl. Wilbert Rundles, a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.
“The money totals well over three-quarters of a million dollars,” Rundles said. “It is pretty surprising when you would take advantage of a friend or family members, but your own mother? It’s quite troubling.”
Records show that police first started investigating in mid-January after victims started coming forward, saying Ketan Shah had scammed them.
According to one report, one of the victims, John Brunetti, was first introduced to Ketan Shah through Brunetti’s brother, who networks with Ketan Shah.
“(The brother) informed him of a deal where Shah had a sort of lottery where he would sell Super Bowl tickets to the first 250 people that paid for them,” the report said. “Brunetti initially purchased four tickets at $5,000 a ticket, which he paid via Paypal.”
Ketan Shah then approached Brunetti with six additional tickets, which Brunetti agreed to buy for $30,000, the report said.
“Because Paypal put a 30-day hold on the initial payment, Shah requested a bank check for the remaining money,” the report said. “Brunetti agreed and sent a bank check for $30,000 to 3780 Old Norcross Road, (Suite) 103 box #386, which is a UPS store.”
When Brunetti went to collect the tickets, however, Ketan Shah was nowhere to be found, the report said.
“Brunetti stated that he has a contract in hand signed by Shah specifying the details of the purchase, and that Shah owns a business called Digital Express Printing which is located (on) Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross,” the report said. “Brunetti stated that he called the business and was told that they did not know Shah’s whereabouts and put him in contact with Shah’s wife, Bhavini Shah, who then told him that Shah had gone missing and had not been heard from since (Jan. 3).”
Bhavini Shah and her daughter, Sepna Shah, told police the same thing, the report said.
“Both Sepna and Bhavini stated that they had no prior knowledge of Shah’s plans with the Super Bowl tickets and that the first they heard of it was when both Brunetti and another individual called asking about the tickets,” the report said. “Sepna and Bhavini told (police) that they think Shah took the money and went to Las Vegas as part of a mid-life crisis. Sepna stated that Shah has left before and gone to Las Vegas … Sepna very adamantly declared that they wanted to distance themselves as far from Shah as possible, even starting divorce proceedings.”
While Ketan Shah’s family might want to distance themselves from the man, police are hoping to find him, or hoping that he will return with the promised tickets.
But Rundles said investigators aren’t holding out out hope.
Ketan Shah has not yet been charged with any crimes because the Super Bowl has not yet been played. However, if he doesn’t show, Rundles said the man will face numerous theft by deception charges.
FOX 5 Atlanta contributed to this report.