Ex-USGA staffer charged with stealing $3M in U.S. Open tickets in 7-year resale scheme

·2 min read

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that a former USGA employee is facing 15 federal charges for an alleged scheme to steal more than $3 million worth of U.S. Open tickets for resale on the secondary market.

Federal prosecutor Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that former USGA assistant ticketing director Robert Fryer, 39, of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, faces one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud in the alleged embezzlement scheme. According to prosecutors, Fryer conducted the scheme starting with the 2013 U.S. Open at Pennsylvania's Merion Golf Club and kept it going through the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“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,” Williams said, per the DOJ statement.

DOJ: 23K U.S. Open tickets sold on resale market were stolen

Prosecutors say Fryer stole more than 23,000 tickets valued at more than $3 million over the course of the seven-year scheme. He then allegedly sold the tickets to third-party brokers for resale on the secondary market while collecting payments that put more than $1 million into his pockets. He did so without the USGA's knowledge, according to the DOJ.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: A general view of a flag and signage is seen on the 17th green during a practice round prior to the start of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on June 15, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
More than 23,00 U.S. Open tickets sold on the secondary market since 2013 were stolen from the USGA, according to federal prosecutors. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Ticket brokers not identified

The DOJ declined to identify the brokers that allegedly worked with Fryer. Per the DOJ, the third-party vendors were able to collect thousands of stolen tickets for each U.S. Open, skirting the USGA's policy of capping sales to any one person or business to 20 tickets. Fryer allegedly delivered the tickets via FedEx, UPS and sometimes even in person to the ticket brokers or their customers.

The USGA announced in a statement that it learned of the scheme when federal prosecutors reached out months ago and that it implemented a new ticketing system starting in 2020, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“The USGA was both appreciative and fully supportive of the efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office [for] the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in this investigation,” spokesperson Beth Major said, per the statement.

Per the DOJ, the charges in total carry a maximum sentence of 300 years in prison and a $3,750,000 fine. If convicted, Fryer would be obligated to repay the USGA and forfeit the proceeds from the alleged scheme.

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