Montreal family office swindled by cunning American predator

Ariel Shlien, a business owner in Montreal, lost money in a Ponzi scheme.

Please note that this post doesn’t say anything bad about anyone else besides the “American She-Wolf.”

In 1985, when Ariel Shlien was 15, he and his younger brother started a business in Montreal that made science shows for kids. Imagine Bill Nye the Science Guy as a live show for birthday parties, camps, etc.

Ariel Shlien, Montreal

At first, this went slowly, but in the mid-1990s, Ariel came up with a model for franchising, and his business grew by leaps and bounds, reaching 28 countries. As the brand grew, he used the standard Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia playbook by getting into books, merchandise, and TV shows.

He worked with big companies and organizations, such as NASA and Crayola. He has also built and sold Quebec’s largest childcare service provider and worked on a number of real estate projects. He is clearly a strong entrepreneur and builder in a low-capex business that helps people and is good for the community. The business was started with $300 from delivering newspapers, which was used to buy neon, helium, and a laser.

Ariel Shlien, the Special-Purpose-Vehicle-Guy

Ariel’s success made him a lot of money, so he set up a family office a few years ago. But he went one step further. According to Ariel’s bio, he “is passionate about co-investing in innovative, niche, and outperforming fund managers and does so regularly with multiple large family offices who co-invest with him through his 1,000+ member Investment Club.

The name of that business is SureFire Capital. Ariel collects money from the people in his club, puts it into a “feeder fund,” and sends it to specific funds he has found. SureFire Dividend Capture LP is one of these kinds of investments. Investors in that fund are in a bit of a jam.

Most of the investors in Ariel’s SureFire business are from outside the United States. Dividend Capture is not his only way to make money. He also uses Digital Assets, Digital Arbitrage, Multi-Strategy, Credit and Municipal Trading. How did Ariel become a world-renowned expert on investments?

I don’t know the details, but I’m sure he’s done a lot of things well, and the investment game can’t be that hard, right? I think he is a good networker, what with YPO and all that. I think he would be most embarrassed by my comments about Bill Nye, who is the biggest dork ever.

Based on the feeder model, the only thing the SureFire Capital Dividend Capture fund bought was a hedge fund in Philadelphia called Broad Reach Capital LP. This fund said it had made returns of 10 percent or more for three years in a row and had raised more than $100 million.

This fund brought Ariel & Co a total of $46 million in interest and “gains.” He asked to be forgiven in March 2019. So, Broad Reach started a fake story to explain why the proceeds had to be held up. The lawsuit is moving because it describes how Ariel’s fear grew over time.

Ariel needs some due diligence muscle. The lawsuit shows that Ariel called a Ponzi fund investor who backed the strategy as a way to check his references. But it turns out that this investor probably worked with the person who ran the Ponzi scheme.

I’ve never understood why people call a bunch of references to find out about someone. Who backs up the coupons? What does it show that Osama bin Laden could give you two references? I believe in far more robust, adversarial, due diligence steps. The most important of these is, of course, to look up the person’s house on Google Street Views.

Here is the alleged Ponzi schemer, who has since been charged:

Be honest, you thought that all Ponzi schemers were men, right? Would you have let this fool you? How did you find the best clues?

Ariel has been through hard times before. When she first tried to franchise Mad Science, the company almost went bankrupt. As a true entrepreneur, I am sure he is intent on making lemonade from lemons. He should read my story about Ron Mock, who lost $250 million in a hedge fund and then spent the next 20 years managing $200 billion for Teachers.

Ariel’s biggest dream when he was making Mad Science was to have a TV show. He was very careful about his brand and didn’t want to work with just anyone. He finally got a deal with MGM Studios. One bright spot is that this Ponzi scheme story would make a great movie. Forget Bill Nye, I’m talking about a real Hollywood production. The name will be American She-Wolf.

I told Ariel earlier this week that I was going to write about him as a courtesy. He felt very calm about it, and he wrote:

“Understood. At the very least, please say that we are thankful that we got theft and fraud coverage from Berkshire Hathaway for all of the money invested to protect our investors.

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