It was a case that seemed rather stunning,
considering that it was a supposedly successful businessman and poker player
that was charged. But, in a Michigan courtroom last week, poker player Michael
Borovetz pled guilty to a singular charge of theft by false pretenses. In
reaching the plea deal, Borovetz probably will avoid lengthy jail time for the guilty
Borovetz Scammed Fellow Travelers
Back in August, Borovetz was arrested in what was a rather complicated procedure. Because law enforcement had to wait for when Borovetz would be in their jurisdiction to be able to effect an arrest, they had to basically wait for Borovetz to come to them. That moment came in August when, while traveling cross country from Seattle to Miami for a poker tournament, Borovetz was on a layover in Detroit and awaiting the connection to Miami for an apparent poker tournament. Detroit authorities, led by the Wayne County Airport Authority, found Borovetz in the airport and he was arrested on two counts of “false pretenses with intent to defraud.”
At the time, it was alleged that Borovetz
would approach fellow travelers in the airport and, after concocting some sort
of sympathetic ruse to draw in his mark, would get them to give him money with
the promise that he would pay it back. After getting the money, Borovetz
(allegedly) would move along and the victim would never hear from him again. Authorities
in Michigan weren’t sure of the exact amount that Borovetz had scammed through
this manner, but his initial bond was set at $100,000, indicating that it was a
Surprisingly, Borovetz was unable to come
up with the bail money, meaning that he has been in custody since that August
arrest. With the plea bargain, however, it is highly unlikely that he will
serve any more time once the case is adjudicated. That will not be official
until December 12, however, at which time he will most likely be sentenced to
time served and probably a stringent probation sentence, but he may also
receive a longer sentence because he has a long history of running this game.
Not Borovetz’s First Rodeo
It seems as though Borovetz made a lifestyle out of running this con, and in multiple locations. In New Jersey, Borovetz had an arrest and a conviction in a case where he received $200 from a ferry rider. Further investigation by Haley Hintze of FlushDraw showed that Borovetz had been convicted or pled guilty to charges in 13 other states and possibly as many as 43 different times. It does not consider the people who have not filed any police claims nor how much money they might have lost.
The con is usually used when a grifter
approaches someone, either in an airport or sometimes a gas station, and entrances
them with a story. Sometimes the story is in how they need gas (if the person
is in a gas station) to get home or to a job or, in the case of an airport,
they “lost their wallet” and need to raise money to get a ticket home. Usually
there is some emergency involved in the game – a spouse who has been injured or
other familial trauma – that the grifter has to have the money THAT MOMENT.
The grifter will often say they will pay the money back, plus interest, and provide a cell number or other method to reach them. Of course, this cell number doesn’t work, and any other info provided is fake, too. This type of scam also is effective through the mail, especially when the con artist says they are a member of the military and need to get home because of some emergency.
Borovetz has blamed his propensity for running these con jobs on a gambling addiction, but that might not make it any easier for his sentence in Michigan. In a few weeks, we’ll see if the Wolverine State will be willing to let Borovetz off light or drop the hammer on him.