Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford allegedly scammed out of nearly $3 million by former personal assistant

Image source: Twitter

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and his wife Kristy claim to have lost nearly $3 million to a man they hired as a personal assistant in 2014. According to the Dallas News, John Wright Martin's starting salary was $45,000 per year, but he soon began charging personal expenses to their American Express business account. 

Those purchases include clothing, jewelry, electronics, Amazon movie rentals, and other such mundanities. But he also purchased a $591,000 home in a wealthy neighborhood in Frisco, donated $10,000 to The Trevor Project charity, and forged at least seven checks on Kristy Pitchford's accounts worth more than $73,000. 

Martin got "better and better at finding ways of spending our money," Pitchford said. 

Somehow it all went unnoticed until sometime after September 2016, when the Pitchfords realized that there were insufficient funds in the payroll account for Nerdvana Frisco, a restaurant and coffee shop owned by Kristy, to cover wages. She contacted Martin, who claimed it was the result of a mixup and promised to straighten it out; in March 2017 he signed a contract acknowledging "the wrongfulness of his actions" and pledging to repay $780,000. But a check he wrote that month for $598,000 bounced.   

The Pitchfords are far from the only people that Martin is accused of scamming. Former friend Matthew Worthen estimates that he's out about $10,000 because of Martin's manipulations, and he's also previously been convicted for writing a bad check, although nothing near this scale. He also skipped out on a bail bond following a felony conviction for drunk driving in July 2017.   

But the Pitchfords appear to be his wealthiest targets: Despite the agreement to repay $780,000, Randy Pitchford put their losses at close to $3 million. "We keep finding stuff," he said, although he also stated that, "As much damage as he did, he didn't destroy us." He also clarified on Twitter that Gearbox did not suffer any losses—"He stole from my wife and I and her business," he tweeted.   

The Pitchfords were awarded more than $2 million plus legal fees earlier this year in a summary judgment, after Martin failed to defend against a lawsuit they filed claiming breach of contract, fraud, and theft. Martin has since disappeared, however. He was arrested in mid-July after passing a bad check for $77,000 to purchase a Cadillac Escalade, but posted bail and then skipped yet again. 

Martin told the Dallas News through Facebook that "there is much more to this story than me being charged for crimes I did not commit," but did not follow through on a promised interview and hasn't responded to further messages.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.