Full Tilt Poker, an international online gambling website stole $440 million from players in a Ponzi scheme that paid fees to board members, reports AFP.
According to the US attorney general’s office, Full Tilt “defrauded players by misrepresenting that their funds on deposit in online gambling accounts were safe, secure, and available for withdrawal at any time,” reports AFP.
“In reality, Full Tilt Poker did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all players, and in addition, the company used player funds to pay board members and other owners more that $440 million since April 2007.”
Full Tilt was unavailable for comment, reports the BBC.
The website was first sued in April, as part of a crackdown on online gambling- which is illegal according to the Justice Department. The original suit, according to the BBC, charged Full Tilt, as well as two other poker companies, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, with money laundering as well as illegal gambling. The suit against Full Tilt was refiled after being revised on Tuesday.
US Attorney, Preet Bharara, the senior prosecutor on the case, said that the site’s top figures included poker champions Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson- who were essentially lining their own pockets with the money they received. Neither has been named in the original complaint. AFP reports that the have been paid $42 million and $25 million respectively by Full Tilt Poker.
According to the WSJ online, US players of Full Tilt are owed about $160 million from the website. The site owed players around the world $390 million in total, although they had only $60 million in the bank.
The US ban on Internet gambling has been challenged- some say that it is an unfair trade restriction- and lawmakers are trying to see it delegalized.