Those are some big bucks!
A wealthy financial advisor claims a well-known game hunter swindled him out of more than $2 million — by faking the measurements of his high-profile kills to rack up accolades and drive up business, a new lawsuit charges.
Angus Murray, the CEO and founder of investment firm Castlestone Management, says alleged wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Jason Stone falsified measurements of “at least twenty animals” so Stone could charge Murray higher prices for the prize kills, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court complaint from Tuesday.
With Stone’s help, Murray won bragging rights for kills including antelope, springbok, buffalo, gazelle and wildebeest that were so big, they made it onto the Safari Club International’s “Top 10” list, the court papers say.
But little did Murray know that Stone was beefing up the measurements of the animals so he could charge his client higher prices for the large prize kills — and use the awards in “advertising, in order to promote his business, attract additional customers, and benefit financially,” the suit alleges.
Murray says Stone, who runs Stone Hunting Safaris, took the false measurements during a series of hunts spanning from 2001 through 2011 — which Murray only realized in January, the suit claims.
Stone Hunting Safaris operates in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania, according to its website.
For example, Stone measured a Roosevelt Sable Antelope that Murray killed in 2001 just under 105 inches, while an independent measurer hired by Murray last year assessed it at just under 92 inches, court papers allege.
Similarly, Stone measured a wildebeest Murray caught in 2009 at around 96 inches, compared to the independent measurer’s roughly 85 inches, the suit claims.
Murray’s appetite to nab “Top 10” trophy animals grew after a 1999 kill of the second largest kudu antelope in Zambia that made it onto the niche list, the suit says.
“To a hunter, this is a notable accomplishment and earned Murray recognition,” the court documents say.
The moneyman — who would take clients on hunts to help grow his business — met and began hunting with Stone around that time, the suit says.
Stone knew about Murray’s goals for “Top 10s” and knew he would lose his business if he didn’t help Murray target large animals, the filing claims.
“Stone told Murray that he would provide him with larger trophies, for which he would need to pay more money. Murray thereafter took his business to Stone directly,” the suit charges.
But by 2012, Murray hunted “less and less, and turned his focus to promoting conservation through among other things the breeding of rhinoceros,” the filing explains.
In the following years, Murray and Stone’s relationship “soured” after a failed business venture the two had “relating to Murray’s conservation efforts,” the suit claims.
Eventually, in sworn statements that Stone and his brother made during a July 2020 inquiry into the failed business venture, Murray started worrying about the validity of his trophies.
That prompted him to hire an independent measurer in October 2020 whose figures “differed dramatically from those that Stone had reported to both Murray … and to the SCI in order to obtain false records in the SCI record books,” the court documents claim.
After reporting this to the SCI, it “removed all [of] Murray’s records promulgated by Stone, from its record books,” the filing says.
Stone isn’t just accused of faking the size of animals Murry bagged — the hunter also allegedly bought live animals at auction and placed “them in a canned setting for a hunter willing to pay Stone ‘crazy amounts’ of money, under the false impression that the animal is free range,” the court papers charge.
Murray’s lawyer reached out to Stone to try to come up with an amicable resolution — but the overtures have gone unanswered, the court papers allege.
Murray is suing Stone and his company for all the hunt fees he’s paid, totaling $2,168,226, the suit says.
Stone and his company did not immediately return requests for comment.