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PROVO — Prosecutors say they have now identified a third woman who was defrauded by an Orem entrepreneur who gained notoriety on the TV show "Shark Tank" and is currently charged in other cases of defrauding women.
Nathanael "Nate" Reid Holzapfel, 42, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with communications fraud and engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, second-degree felonies, and being an unlicensed broker, a third-degree felony.
Holzapfel met a woman in September 2020 and "began immediately grooming her in his scheme to defraud her of money," according to charging documents.
Holzapfel told the woman she needed to invest in his company, while "misrepresenting the development and current operations" of the company, the charges state.
After "much persuasion and misrepresentation," the woman wrote a check to Holzapfel for $100,000 to invest, and investigators say shortly after that, he stopped communicating with her.
"(He) has since spent the victim's money on multiple items that do not further the (company). This is part of the pattern and scheme that the defendant has used on other victims," the charging documents say.
This is the third case filed against Holzapfel since August. The Utah County Attorney's Office believes that Holzapfel's typical modus operandi would include meeting women on dating apps — even though he is married — quickly finding out about their financial situations, then targeting "vulnerable" women such as those who recently lost a loved one and were left with insurance money.
He was charged Aug. 30 in 4th District Court with three counts of communications fraud, a second-degree felony, and accused of dating a woman and pressuring her to transfer ownership of her home to his company, then selling her home and investing the equity in another one of his companies, charging documents state.
In November, he was accused of engaging in a similar scheme with a second woman and was charged with two counts of theft by deception and communications fraud, second-degree felonies.
Holzapfel gained notoriety in 2013 when he appeared on the TV show "Shark Tank" and pitched his belt company, Mission Belt. The company became successful following his appearance on the show. The belts are popular among missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others. Holzapfel co-founded Mission Belt with his brother, but left the company several years ago. After charges were filed in August, Mission Belt issued a statement disassociating itself with Holzapfel.
He was also sued in 2018 by Larry King Enterprises for allegedly using a mock interview King agreed to record as a favor that Holzapfel could privately submit to TV producers to try and get on their shows. Instead, he "used false pretenses to obtain Larry King's participation in a mock interview, then infringed plaintiffs' common law trademarks and rights of publicity to make it appear that Larry King endorsed (Holzapfel's) commercial activities when, in fact, he has not done so," the lawsuit states.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim is asked to contact the Utah County Attorney's Office at 801-851-8069 or by emailing the chief investigator at firstname.lastname@example.org.