US DoJ accuses Full Tilt Poker of being 'a global Ponzi scheme'

US DoJ accuses Full Tilt Poker of being 'a global Ponzi scheme'

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The big name pros at Full Tilt Poker have largely avoided the spotlight in the scandal that has engulfed the company since Black Friday. That changed earlier today when Howard Lederer and Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson were named in a Department of Justice amendment that accused Full Tilt of being a Ponzi scheme that defrauded its customers of over $300m.

The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York has amended an earlier civil complaint to allege that in addition to "the operation of an unlawful gambling business, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering as alleged in the Complaint" Full Tilt "also defrauded its poker players by misrepresenting to players that funds deposited into their online player accounts were secure and segregated from operating funds, while at the same time using player funds to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to Full Tilt Poker owners."

Ferguson, Lederer alongside Rafael Furst and Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar have been accused of improperly using money deposited by Full Tilt's online players to pay themselves and other owners “approximately $443,860,529.89” between April 2007 and April 2011.

At the end of March 2011, Full Tilt Poker owed approximately $390 million to players around the world, including approximately $150 million owed to players in the United States despite having only “approximately $60 million on deposit in its bank accounts.”

“Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” US Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited.”

The authorities are seeking “$40,954,781.53 for Bitar; $41,856,010.92 million for Lederer; $25 million for Ferguson; and $11,706,323.96 million for Furst.”

More to follow.

Tags: Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Full Tilt Poker, law, Black Friday, Rafe Furst