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Microsoft employee allegedly pocketed $200,000 selling company Super Bowl tickets

Eric Adelson

Not many of us ever get our hands on a Super Bowl ticket. Even fewer get our hands on dozens of them.

One man who did may now be going to prison.

A former Microsoft employee named Jeff Tran happened to be the person overseeing the distribution of Super Bowl tickets within the company last year. According to the Department of Justice, he didn’t exactly distribute them in an appropriate way.

“Instead of distributing all of the tickets to Microsoft employees, Tran sold over 60 of the tickets through a ticket broker,” states a DOJ press release.

He allegedly pocketed more than $200,000.

On Wednesday, Tran was indicted on five counts of wire fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

It’s much more of a bad look for the tech giant than the sports giant. Microsoft purchased the tickets from the NFL with the agreement that they would be used for the company’s benefit. Instead it seems they were used at least in part for Tran’s benefit. The DOJ alleges Tran, then Microsoft’s director of sports marketing and alliances, was supposed to distribute blocks of tickets to two managers, and instead he shipped them to New Jersey via postage labels provided by a ticket broker there.

He also charged a Microsoft employee $12,400 for several tickets, claiming he had paid for them on his own. In reality, Microsoft had purchased them.

“It is our understanding that Microsoft took immediate action to address this matter,” an NFL spokesperson told Yahoo Sports, “and is putting internal safeguards in place to prevent this type of situation from happening again.”

In an email to Yahoo Sports, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “When we learned of Mr. Tran’s conduct we investigated, terminated his employment, and then referred the matter to law enforcement.”

Microsoft’s arrangement with the NFL is most visible on the sideline, where Surface tablets are used by coaches and players to review plays and plan drives. Perhaps the most well-known “highlight” of the Surface tablets came in 2016 when Patriots coach Bill Belichick threw one in frustration.

The ticket-selling was not even the focus of the indictment against Tran. According to the DOJ, he “caused a fraudulent $775,000 invoice to be issued to Microsoft, supposedly for services related to the 2017 Super Bowl.” He had it routed indirectly to his bank account, and then tried to invoice the company for another payment to a company he controlled.

The indictment states that when Tran was confronted by Microsoft investigators about his actions, he “claimed he had been hacked.”

This indictment is hardly the first involving Super Bowl tickets. Just this year, a pro poker player was accused of bilking fans of $6 million in a ticket-flipping scheme.

Tran will be arraigned in the next 10 days.

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