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Full Tilt Poker Accused Of Being A Ponzi Scheme By DOJ


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Full Tilt Poker has been accused of being an international ‘Ponzi Scheme’ by the
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and that the owners of the controversial
online poker room – including top U.S. poker pros Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson and
Howard Lederer – defrauded players out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

On Tuesday this week, the DOJ filed an amendment in court to an earlier civil
complaint against Full Tilt Poker, which included ‘additional allegations,
claims, and defendants concerning a fraudulent scheme by Full Tilt Poker and its
Board of Directors regarding the misuse of players’ funds.’

The amendment was overseen by U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New
York, Preet Bharara, who made headlines a few years ago by bringing infamous
Wall Street Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff to justice.

Full Tilt Poker Execs Lined Their Own Pockets

In a statement, Bharara accused Full Tilt Poker executives of ‘lining their own
pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers’, as
well as lying to players and the general public about the security of millions
of dollars in deposited funds.

On the Full Tilt Poker ‘chopping block’ alongside Ferguson and Lederer, are
Rafael ‘Rafe’ Furst and former CEO Ray Bitar, who are accused of pocketing over
$440 million for themselves and other stakeholders of the online poker room. As
such, the DOJ is seeking to recoup $25 million from Ferguson, $41.8 million from
Lederer, $11.7 million from Furst and $40 million from Bitar.

According to the amendments filed in court this week, the Full Tilt Poker
executives allegedly combined player funds with the firm’s operating funds,
which they have denied. The DOJ claims that as of the end of March this year,
Full Tilt Poker owes its players no less than $390 million, $150 million of
which is owed to players in the United States.

The Department of Justice is accusing Full Tilt Poker of allowing players to
gamble with – and lose to other players – ‘phantom’ money which the site in
reality never actually possessed or collected.

The DOJ Indicted Full Tilt Poker In April

Full Tilt Poker’s woes extend back to April 15 this year, when along with
Absolute Poker and PokerStars, it was indicted for violating the Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), illegal gambling offenses, money
laundering and bank fraud. Soon after the indictment, all three of the poker
rooms stopped accepting U.S. players.

However, of the three, PokerStars is the
only poker room that has paid back its international player base, as well as its
American players to the tune of $120 million.

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