Gamblers Lose Big in Massive Online Poker Bust

Feds shutdown industry with help of Daniel Tzvetkoff
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2011 11:04 AM CDT
A man plays poker online in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The online poker world is reeling after this weekend’s massive US government crackdown on online poker sites. The Department of Justice indicted the owners of the three largest sites—Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker—for bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering on Friday, shutting down all three sites, the Wall Street Journal reports. The indictment said the defendants used fraudulent methods to trick financial institutions into processing payments on their behalf following a 2006 law that made such payments illegal.

It said they sometimes arranged for money from US gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls. The government also seized 76 bank accounts, many of which contained players’ money. The government knew exactly where to strike, because it persuaded the “boy genius” who helped invent the sites’ e-commerce systems to help them, the Courier-Mail reports. Daniel Tzvetkoff had already fallen out with the sites, who were suing him for $100 million, when the government arrested him in April. He was released on bail in August—after a secret meeting with prosecutors, in which he gave them everything they needed to take down the sites. Click for more on the "boy genius."

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