Ex-USGA employee made $1 million stealing, then selling U.S. Open tickets

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A former assistant director of open admissions for the U.S. Golf Association pocketed more than $1 million over a seven-year period selling stolen U.S. Open tickets, a story first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Federal prosecutors say Robert Fryer schemed with two ticket resellers in Pennsylvania to sell about 23,000 stolen tickets for U.S. Open tournaments between 2013 and 2019. The face value of the tickets was about $3.4 million. The ticket resale companies were not identified.

Prosecutors say Fryer first starting stolen tickets ahead of the 2013 U.S. Open which was held at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

“The defendant allegedly stole revenue from a legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organization, and brings excitement and income to our district with U.S. Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Criminals that conduct ticket schemes like this prey on the excitement surrounding big events; fans should remember that any item with a low price that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern.”

The USGA told Golfweek in a statement:

Several months ago, the USGA was made aware of a federal investigation into an embezzlement scheme relating to U.S. Open tickets. The USGA was identified as the victim of this scheme, which took place from 2013 to 2019 under a legacy ticketing system and originated from the inappropriate and illegal actions of a former employee, who has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The USGA was both appreciative and fully supportive of the efforts of the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania in this investigation.

The USGA implemented a new ticketing platform starting in 2020 and recently engaged an external expert to review our ticketing processes and controls to help prevent this type of activity from occurring and ensure best practices and security protocols are employed for our championship ticketing.

Court filings indicate that Fryer, 39, would send the tickets to the resellers by mail but sometimes he would meet them at the golf club where the tournament was being held. The federal report states: “One of the ticket brokers regularly emailed the defendant prepaid UPS shipping labels that he then used to send the tickets to that broker and that broker’s customers.”

Fryer now faces charges of conspiracy as well as wire and mail fraud, with a conviction possibly sending him to federal prison for up to 20 years.

The USGA also told Golfweek: “We do not comment on personnel matters but can confirm that Rob Fryer is no longer employed at the USGA.”