Utah entrepreneur who appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ charged with fraud

Oct 7, 2021, 11:24 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — Nate Holzapfel made millions of dollars selling belts after appearing on “Shark Tank,” but now the Utah County Attorney’s Office says he has scammed at least one woman out of $200,000 — and they think there are more victims.

Courtney Morton says Holzapfel connected with her on Instagram last year. She’s a single mother and cancer survivor that lives with her disabled adult son and said says it was a vulnerable time for her as her father, whom she called her “rock,” had recently died.

She believes Holzapfel trolled her online and found someone he could scam. Investigators said that’s exactly what he did.

Courtney Morton speaks with KSL TV’s Debbie Worthen. (KSL TV)

She said the two of them started a romantic relationship over the next few months. They were falling in love, talking about getting married. Now, a year and a half later, Morton is out her home, car and all of the equity she had.

“I’ve gone through every emotion,” Morton said through tears. “I’ve gone through severe depression, where I didn’t want to live anymore.”

She said she’s also been embarrassed and knows how this looks.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” she said. “He knew exactly the right things to say to a person in a very vulnerable position.”

Morton said Holzapfel knew she missed her father. “He would say things like, ‘I really wish I would have known your dad. We would have really hit it off,’” she said.

She now says her father would have told her to run. Last summer Holzapfel had her sign her house over to an LLC he told her he owned. She said she was hesitant but trusted him. After all, they were talking about getting married and buying something together to give them a fresh start.

But a few months later, he sold her house and had the money wired directly to him — something he could do since she had already signed everything over to him.

When Morton finally went to the police, she said Sgt. Cole Christensen, an attorney and lead investigator with the Utah County Attorney’s Office, got to work. On Monday, they arrested Holzapfel on felony fraud charges.

“We have additional victims that are coming forward and we believe there are others,” Christensen said. “Hold this person accountable.”

But to authorities’ dismay, Holzapfel posted bail in 90 minutes.

In a statement, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said, “A person is walking free today because he was wealthy enough to post cash bail. It demonstrates at its heart what is wrong with Utah’s cash bail system. It doesn’t protect society. It protects the wealthy.”

Wealthy on what investigators said is stolen money.

Morton doesn’t think she will ever see the money Holzapfel allegedly stole from her. But now, she said her mission is to stop Holzapfel, the former owner of Mission Belts, a company that made him millions, from preying on any other innocent victims.

“My goal, in talking to you, is if there are any women out there that are struggling with coming forward just know that you have support,” she said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: How do you know if your donation really gets to those who need it?

Fundraising runs rampant on social media, but how do you know if your donation really gets to those who need it?
10 hours ago
Josh Ellis

Elk herd returns to SLC’s Foothill Drive; one hit in crash overnight

UDOT and the Utah DWR are urging drivers to be on alert as a herd of elk returned to roads near the mouth of Parleys Canyon Friday morning.
10 hours ago
Shelby Lofton

Steal. Sell. Repeat. Wave of construction thefts leaves Utah buyers stuck paying the price

They thought it was a steal. Turns out, they got scammed. The law caught up to a man who stole construction equipment and sold it to unwitting Utahns, but his victims say they’re the ones paying for his crimes.
1 day ago
Unified Police Department squad vehicle. (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Woman in custody after crashing into 3 civilian cars and 3 police cars in Midvale chase

A police pursuit resulted in damages to three Unified Police Department cars and three civilian cars Thursday night.
1 day ago
(Andrew Adams/KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Two arrested in Glendale shooting

Two men were arrested Thursday for the fatal shooting of a 35-year-old man in the Glendale neighborhood
1 day ago
A search is underway for Austin Madsen, 32, of Mapleton, Utah. (Mapleton Police Department)...
Shara Park

Search underway in Garfield County for missing father suffering mental health crisis

A desperate search is underway right now in Garfield County for a 32-year-old father from Mapleton, who was last heard from almost a week ago.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Utah entrepreneur who appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ charged with fraud