clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

$5M ticket reselling scheme’s victims included economist at U. of C.

Matthew Berger was indicted in December 2018, not long after he made a series of threatening calls to various FBI offices across the country, according to prosecutors.
Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A West Side woman has been sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison and ordered to pay back nearly $5 million to investors she defrauded in a scheme to resell tickets for concerts and sporting events.

Prosecutors said 44-year-old Tracy Monti lied and told the investors she had access to purchase event tickets directly from primary sellers at face value and would split the profits she made with them once she resold the tickets on the secondary market.

Monte pleaded guilty in February to a single count of wire fraud for the scheme, which involved at least 12 victims between 2010 and 2015, according to court documents.

Monti was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay the victims nearly $5 million in restitution by U.S. District Judge Manish Shah.

One of the investors, and the man who lost the most in Monti’s scheme, was Roman Weil, an economist and accountant who has taught at University of Chicago and got his doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Prosecutors were at a loss to say how Monti — a woman who dropped out of high school during her freshman year and never earned her GED — was able to bilk Weil out of so much money. Money from Weil, prosecutors said, was used by Monti to pay back earlier investors in a ponzi-like scheme.

Reached Tuesday evening, Weil declined to comment.

Monti was working as a receptionist at an upscale eyewear store when she met and befriended many of the victims and told them she had contacts at venues who would sell her the tickets before they were offered to the public.

In other instances, Monti was able get secondary ticket sellers to give her a line of credit to purchase tickets and further her scheme. They also became victims of Monti’s fraud, prosecutors said.

Monti’s court-appointed defense attorney, Piyush Chandra, said Monti was subjected to emotional and physical abuse as a child and suffered from low self-esteem.

Monti became “enamored” with rock musicians and attended many concerts, eventually being allowed backstage access, and was drawn to the “attention and excitement” of the rock music culture, he said. Chandra said she at some point did buy and resell tickets to events.

Monti used the money she raised to partially pay back earlier investors when they pressured her about where their money had gone, but she also spent lavishly on herself, including purchasing a home in Austin on the West Side, a car, vacations and shoes, according to court documents.

One of the defrauded investors, Dawn Salden, said she believed she “will never recover the money” Monti stole from her, much less the time she spent tracking Monti down.

“You took my kid’s college money,” Salden told Monti in court Tuesday. Salden asked Shah to sentence Monti to a prison term “as long as it will take her children to pay back their student loans.”

Monti told Judge Shah she was “disgusted” with herself and “wanted to take responsibility” for her actions.

Shah said he believed Monti wanted to redeem herself, but said she had committed fraud over-and-over again — even continuing to defraud her investors after she was arrested by Chicago police when a victim reported the scheme.

Additionally, she continued to lie about her actions once confronted by FBI agents, he said.

“In person, you appear genuinely frightened about what happened and what the future holds for you,” Shah said during sentencing. “But to be blunt … on paper you are a liar and a thief.

“You’ve manufactured a fantasy for yourself and now reality is coming down around you.”

Following the hearing, Monti said in brief interview she was glad it was finally over.

“I’ll just do what I have to do,” she said.