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Utah entrepreneur who appeared on 'Shark Tank' now accused of defrauding 2nd victim

An Orem man has been charged with defrauding a widow in September, just weeks after he was charged with defrauding another woman.
The 4th District Courthouse in Provo is pictured on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. An Orem man was charged Wednesday with defrauding a widow in September, just weeks after he was charged with defrauding another woman out of $200,000.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

A Utah County entrepreneur who gained notoriety on the TV show “Shark Tank” and is accused of defrauding a woman out of nearly $200,000 after striking up a romantic relationship with her, is now accused of doing the same thing to a second woman.

Nathanael “Nate” Reid Holzapfel, 42, of Orem, was charged Wednesday in 4th District Court with two counts of theft by deception and communications fraud, second-degree felonies.

Investigators say Holzapfel, who is married, met a woman on Tinder in August. In September, Holzapfel “began grooming the victim by telling her that he would help her invest her money so that she could live like a gold girl. (He) then told the victim that he would invest $50,000 from the victim’s late husband’s life insurance policy into his company Bristol and Beard,” according to new charging documents.

Holzapfel promised the woman she would receive a 10% return for the next four to five years, and then she would receive $1 million after he sold the company, the charges state.

Later that same day, police say the woman told Holzapfel that she was not comfortable with the alleged investment and wanted her money back. But Holzapfel “kept changing the topic and never returned the victim’s money,” the charges allege.

Holzapfel is accused of never investing the money and keeping it for himself. He is also accused of selling the woman’s car, her AR-15 and ammunition and promising to also invest that money, the charging documents say.

“The victim asked for the money from the sales but never received the money from the defendant,” according to the court documents.

All of the alleged crimes happened after Holzapfel had already been charged with defrauding another woman out of approximately $200,000 and causing her to lose her house, which had been modified to accommodate the woman’s special needs son.

Holzapfel was charged in 4th District Court on Aug. 30 with three counts of communications fraud, a second-degree felony. In that case, he is accused of starting a romantic relationship in February 2020 with “a divorcee with significant health problems” who cares for her disabled adult son who uses a wheelchair.

Soon after he began dating the woman, police say Holzapfel began inquiring about the woman’s financial situation, including her equity, which she said she had about $200,000. Prosecutors say he then convinced the woman to invest that money into one of his companies, a move that the woman instantly regretted and attempted to get her money back.

Instead, Holzapfel further pressured the woman into selling her home, according to the charges, and claimed he would use the money to invest in another one of his companies called Bristle & Beard, LLC. Court documents do not indicate if Bristle & Beard, LLC and Bristol and Beard Co. are the same company.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Wednesday that his office is also talking to other women who claim they were victims of Holzapfel and additional charges could be filed.

“We express our gratitude for the media’s help in heightening the awareness and providing information for victims to contact our office. It appears that multiple victims are involved in a disturbing pattern of activity from an individual,” Leavitt said in a prepared statement.

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 colec@utahcounty.gov.

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. And after charges were filed in August, Mission Belt issued a statement disassociating itself with Holzapfel.

“Nate Holzapfel has not been associated with Mission Belt for more than seven years and has no dealings with any of its employees, managers or customers. Nate Holzapfel does not represent Mission Belt in any capacity,” the statement says. “We are passionate about belts and our mission to give a hand up to those in need. Nate Holzapfel does not represent Mission Belt or its values.”

Holzapfel was 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.