NETeller court date looming, U.S. customers stewing

NETeller co-founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre are scheduled to make another U.S. court appearance Friday. However, there's no guarantee that hearing will take place, according to a spokesperson from the New York U.S. Attorney's office.

Rebekah Carmichael told a Casino City Times reporter that the date is merely a calendar placeholder while the U.S. Attorney's office finishes deciding what it wants to do.

According to Carmichael, one of three things can happen by the time the hearing date is reached: the charged person can be indicted, not indicted, or the decision can be extended.

The time has already been extended once in the case against Lawrence and Lefebvre, presumably to allow the authorities to finish building their case. The two men are facing charges of facilitating the promotion of illegal online gambling through NETeller.

Though they no longer have any connection with the company they founded, Lefebvre and Lawrence were arrested in January. Since then NETeller has stopped allowing U.S. customer online gambling transactions.

U.S. customers who have been involved in online gambling have also seen their funds at NETeller frozen. The company says the accounts were seized by the Department of Justice as part of their case against Lawrence and Lefebvre.

NETeller hired a top legal firm with branches in the U.S. and the U.K. to help deal with the legal ramifications and safeguard its interests, but so far U.S. players have no indication if and when they will get their money.

Isaac Haxton, who came in second at the WPT Caribbean Adventure in January, confirmed to that he had nearly $800,000 of his winnings from the live poker tournament frozen in NETeller.

Online players are also starting to band together to possibly take action should it be necessary in order to get their funds from NETeller. A group called the NETeller Customer Coalition (NCC) has formed with more than 200 members.

According to the group's moderator, the NCC's members have a total of no less than $500,000 locked up in NETeller.

"Presently, (the group) is pretty tame and level-headed," the moderator said. "It seems that there's no lawyers spamming the forum, and people are tossing around a wide range of ideas, opinions and rants."

At its yahoo group site, the Coalition has gathered an archive of articles, links and files about the NETeller situation. There is also a database of account balances stuck at the e-wallet.

"Right now, it seems to be the best 'rallying point' for those affected by the situation," the moderator said.

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