Police: Plymouth man charged in $15M scheme to cheat Amazon customers threatens suicide, prompting lengthy standoff
A man charged with being part of a multimillion-dollar scheme on Amazon that collected more than $15 million from consumers threatened to kill himself in his Plymouth home, prompting a face-to-face encounter with police during a standoff that ended peacefully several hours later, authorities said Monday.
Matthew Tieva, 43, brought police from several agencies to his home starting shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday after he threatened to shoot himself, Plymouth police said. He was found nearby at about 10:45 a.m. Monday and was taken to North Memorial Medical Center for observation, according to emergency audio dispatch.
Matthew and Jessie Conners Tieva, along with their company Sellers Playbook, were named in a recent complaint filed in federal court by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Minnesota Attorney Generals Office.
The Tievas promoted a business model for merchandising products on Amazon.coms third-party sales platform. Sellers Playbook made false and unsubstantiated claims, including that its customers could make $20,000 a month and a potential net profit of $1.29 million by selling on Amazon, the charges said.
Few if any of Sellers Playbooks customers achieved such results, and the defendants had no basis for making such profit claims, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Minneapolis.
In 2004, Jessie Tieva was a contestant during the inaugural season of Donald Trumps The Apprentice show on NBC-TV. She was 21 when she auditioned for the show as one of 215,000 applicants.
The turmoil in the familys home in the 5200 block of Black Oaks Lane began at about 6:50 p.m. Sunday, when Jessie Tieva called her father and said her husband had been drinking and talking about committing suicide, the emergency audio revealed.
Matthew Tieva got a gun and locked himself in a room, the audio continued.
An officer at the scene was heard on the dispatch audio saying, We got to make entry. We have a fight going on in the rear basement here.
Officers entered with guns drawn and encountered Matthew Tieva with a gun to his throat, according to the dispatch audio. The officers retreated, and a SWAT team and a negotiator were called to the scene, the audio continued.
At some point, Matthew Tieva found his way around the corner to a home on 52nd Avenue N., and thats where authorities apprehended him.
The law firm representing the Tievas in the federal case declined to comment on the incident. A request for comment from the U.S. Attorneys Office has yet to prompt a response.
The defendants have been charged with nine counts in connection with the alleged misrepresentations, including violations of the federal Consumer Review Fairness Act and the Minnesota Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act.
The Tievas offered their Sellers Playbook system to consumers through various marketing mechanisms, including e-mail, websites, webinars, online videos and social media such as Facebook and Instagram, the complaint said. Sellers Playbook also conducted seminars in cities throughout the country.
Customers would pay $497 for a basic Sellers Playbook system, which would include an intensive learning experience about Amazon through a three-day live workshop and access to the Sellers Playbook Basic Membership Site, the complaint said. During the three-day workshops, Sellers Playbook tried to upsell customers to more expensive systems costing $6,997 to $32,997.
The Tievas formed Sellers Playbook in early 2017. Before the companys creation, Jessie Tieva, through Exposure Marketing, had participated in FBA Stores, a similar scheme that was shut down in March as the result of an FTC order, the complaint said.
Paul Walsh 612-673-4482