Nate Holzapfel, from Provo, appears on the TV show “Shark Tank” to describe the belts made by his company. Holzapfel now faces criminal charges accusing him of defrauding a woman out of nearly $ 200,000 and investigators believe he may have victimized other people. He hasn’t worked for the company for seven years. (Youtube)
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PROVO – A Utah County contractor who gained notoriety on the TV show “Shark Tank” with a belt designed for missionaries and others has been charged with defrauding a woman over nearly $ 200,000, he causing the loss of his house which, according to investigators, was built specifically to accommodate his disabled son.
Utah County District Attorney’s Office investigators believe there are other women who may have fallen victim to Nathanael “Nate” Reid Holzapfel.
Sgt. Cole Christensen, of the Utah County District Attorney’s Office of Investigations, said his office had been in contact with several other potential victims statewide.
“He’s looking for a particular type of woman,” Christensen said of Holzapfel’s alleged modus operandi.
Investigators believe Holzapfel meets women on dating apps and tries to find out about their financial situation soon after. It then focuses on “vulnerable” women, such as women who have recently lost a loved one and ended up with the insurance money, Christensen said.
Holzapfel, 42, from Provo, was indicted on August 30 by the 4th District Court with three counts of communications fraud, a second degree felony. An arrest warrant was issued against his arrest and he was held in the Utah County Jail Tuesday. Holzapfel was able to post a deposit around 90 minutes later. His initial court appearance is scheduled for November 3.
Holzapfel, who is married, began a romantic relationship in February 2020 with “a divorcee with significant health problems” who takes care of her disabled adult son who uses a wheelchair, according to the prosecution documents.
Shortly after starting to date the woman, police said Holzapfel began inquiring into the woman’s financial situation, including her equity, which she said had around $ 200,000.
“(Holzapfel) started telling (the wife) that she needed to do something to protect the equity in her home. (He told her that he) had a company called Save My House, LLC, which could protect the equity in her home and save her from paying high capital gains taxes if she were to sell the home, ”the charges say.
On May 14, 2020, Holzapfel took the woman to a securities company “as a surprise” and “pressured” her to sign a pre-drafted deed that transfers ownership of the woman’s house to Save My House, according to the charges.
The woman initially resisted signing and then told investigators she was confused, but eventually signed. The charges allege that a witness for the securities company told investigators “it was obvious (the woman) did not want to sign the waiver but ultimately gave in and signed.”
At the time of signing the title, Holzapfel did not tell the woman that he “had financial problems, that he had recently been sued and that a default judgment had been passed against him for more than $ 250,000 “, according to the charges.
Holzapfel was sued in 2018 by Larry King Enterprises for allegedly using a bogus interview King agreed to do as a favor Holzapfel could privately submit to TV producers to try and participate in their shows. Instead, he “used false pretenses to get Larry King to participate in a bogus interview, and then infringed the plaintiffs’ trademarks and publicity rights to make it appear that Larry King approved of the business activities ( of Holzapfel) when in fact, he did not do so ”, indicates the lawsuit.
After signing the deed, the woman told Holzapfel that she had changed her mind. But court documents say Holzapfel began to ignore the demands and put pressure on her to sell her house, which was specially designed to accommodate her disabled son, and invest some of her equity in another of his businesses called Bristle & Beard, LLC.
The woman eventually relented and “reluctantly” sold her house, according to the charges, but “the alleged Bristle & Beard, LLC business was not a real business at the time.”
Holzapfel sold the woman’s house in August 2020 without telling the woman how much money he made from it, according to the charges, then deposited nearly $ 208,000 in an Alaska-registered LLP that listed Holzapfel and his wife as general partners.
After receiving a bank transfer of $ 207,773 on September 1, 2020 from the sale of the woman’s house, he began transferring the money to other accounts and “used those funds to pay the existing personal debts on his motor vehicle, attorney fees, credit cards, and to purchase expensive luxury items like firearms and gun supplies. Between September 1, 2020 and January 14, 2021, ( he) transferred and spent over $ 159,000 received from the sale of the victim’s house for his sole benefit, ”the state charges.
Police believe the woman was paid only $ 11,000 for the sale of her house.
“During (Holzapfel’s) love parade and promised business relationship with (the woman), (he) refused to let (her) have contact with his family and failed to tell (him) that he was still married, ”the charges say.
When the woman threatened to go to the police in November, she said Holzapfel cut off all contact with her “and was missing”.
In the arrest warrant affidavit issued in September, the officer investigating the case said he made numerous attempts to contact Holzapfel and his lawyer, but had not heard from either. other since May. The officer also monitored the address on Holzapfel’s driver’s license, which was a motel in Orem, but found no evidence that he lived there.
Holzapfel’s lawyer did not call back on Wednesday to respond to the allegations.
Holzapfel appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” in 2013, when he featured his belt company, Mission Belt. Fashion mogul Daymond John agreed to invest in the belt company during the show. Mission Belt was hugely successful after Holzapfel appeared in Shark Tank. Belts are popular among missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The company also says it donates $ 1 for every belt sold to developing countries to support entrepreneurship and for food and clothing.
Holzapfel co-founded the company with his brother, but is no longer associated with the company, according to a prepared statement released on Wednesday by Mission Belt.
“Nate Holzapfel has not been associated with Mission Belt for over seven years and has no relationship with any of its employees, managers or clients. Nate Holzapfel does not represent Mission Belt in any capacity,” the statement said. “We are passionate about belts and our mission to give a helping hand to those in need. Nate Holzapfel does not represent Mission Belt or its values.”
Christensen said the criminal case is a good reminder that children aren’t the only ones who need to be careful on social media apps.
“We are always talking about internet safety for kids.… Sometimes we forget about ourselves and our online activity,” he said.
Although Christensen said that many potential victims he spoke to felt embarrassed by their experiences, he encouraged others who may have had contact with Holzapfel and who are in the same situation to contact the district attorney’s office. Utah County at 435-815-8069 or email them directly. at [email protected]
“Our office and its investigators focus on crimes that hurt people. Clearly, financial crimes like this are life changing events for victims. We have excellent investigators who took a case that was easily dismissed by some for arrest and charges because the evidence backed it up. Victims deserve no less, ”Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said in a prepared statement.