Major Online Poker Sites Charged with Fraud, Illegal Gambling, Money Laundering

American justice

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney has charged the principals of three of online poker's biggest sites with bank fraud, illegal gambling and laundering billions of dollars.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office in New York, a multi-billion dollar civil money laundering and forfeiture action has also been filed and the Internet domain names used by PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker have been seized.

In all, 11 defendants have been charged, including PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg, Fill Tilt Poker's Ray Bitar and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom.

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

"Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud.

"Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits."

Janice Fedarcyk, The FBI's Assistant Director-in-Charge, said the online poker sites lied, flauted the law and wagered they could circumvent U.S. law without repercussions.

"These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck," she said.

"They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing to flout the law for a fee. The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost."

The indictment alleges the online poker companies continued to operate in the United States despite passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick banking institutions into processing payments on their behalf, and enlisted "payment processors" to lie to banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing and disguise payments back to the them.

It goes on to allege PokerStars and Full Tilt approached the principals of a few small, local banks facing financial difficulties to engage in payment processing on their behalf in return for multi-million dollar investments in the banks.

The indictment and civil complaint seek at least $3 billion.

Some of the charges carry maximum penalties of up to 30 years in prison.

With many of the defendants named not living in the United States currently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to secure their arrest and seize their criminal proceeds located abroad.

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He who questions 2011-05-04 20:41:19

why the **** cant i play some poker online? i know damn well that the US government doesnt give a **** about underage gambling. if some of that money was going to the US gov, i'd be playing poker right now rather than typin this shit. US dont care bout shit but money, i can go die for my country but i cant drink a beer, i can go "die for the cause" but i cant play cards with money involved? the gov is so sick, its absurd how they act and react to anything anyone does that doesnt involve them. let me play poker and let full tilt keep makin they money. hope off they dick US cuz we know damn well you dont care about the people or gambling, all about the money

Marcos 2011-04-19 06:05:19

I had just turn a free play money tournament into 2 dollars last week!! does this means that i wont be able to cash out? it took me almost 3 year to acomplish it!!!! i know the goverment is after my money but come on!! give me break!!!

from Canada 2011-04-18 18:52:38

The US government is the most corrupt government in the world hiding behind the illusion of freedom. "The land of the free" my ass! The US like all other empires before it will fall. Just keep spreading the word. The truth will set everybody free eventually. The elite bankers and government want all the abundance at the expense of the people. These assholes are doing this for a money grab/payoff. I feel sorry for you US citizens who can't play on these sites now. Poker is one of the few releases left for us for enjoyment!

rob 2011-04-18 05:01:17

all these republicans all care about is oil..not poker.. they **** us with the oil prices and now with something that can relieve us once in a while... this country isnt free, the government controls EVERYTHING!!!!...

Simon 2011-04-17 19:38:40

Why the hell is Doyle Brunson not arrested or anyone from Cake Poker Network or Howard Lederer etc.....The Bellagio must be happy as the high stakes pros will have to go there to play high stakes games again...

Joseph Harvey 2011-04-17 01:18:35

I say to the US government what I would say to anyone else who tries to tell me how to spend my hard earned money...."*** YOU". The audacity of a government so influenced by lobbyists and so corrupt to the point that those of us who worked so hard all our lives, will never be able to see a dime of social security or medicare because they pissed it away. I have no faith in this government and live to see the day that they go the way of Lybia, Egypt, and all the rest. My focus now will be dedicated to vote out every Republican that voted for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006. Your days are numbered ladies and gentlemen....enjoy them while you can.

tom smith 2011-04-17 00:29:59

What happens if you are from outside the US? Nothing. Woohoo (fist pump).

Nobody 2011-04-16 22:57:54

@Rich

Try here: www.fulltilpoker.co.uk

Rich 2011-04-16 19:20:01

I cannot log in to fulltilt... it prompts me for an update... i cannot download the update... i cannot get in touch with the fulltilt help centre...

i have hundreds of dollars in my roll all of which is now tied up in a site i cannot access.

to top it off I'm from England where gambling is legal and still i get screwed by u.s law!!!

how can i get this sorted???

thanks

jasonf89 2011-04-16 14:28:16

Although that joke of Obamas administrations did this dont forget that other joke of a party the republicans brought in that 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Our government are a bunch of crooks and if you read the documents they want to sue them for 3 billion dollars/ or have all rights to the company including name/brand etc.There only in it for the money the dirty scammers

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