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Full Tilt Poker Was Ponzi Scheme: Feds

Poker celebs cheated users out of $300M: Justice Department
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2011 5:09 PM CDT

(Newser) More trouble for Full Tilt Poker: The popular website cheated players out of $300 million while reaping hundreds of millions for a number of poker celebrities, the Justice Department says. The site brought in $444 million for luminaries of the game, including site execs Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson, according to an earlier civil complaint in April. A US attorney for New York today moved to amend the complaint, adding that executives were paying themselves with money they claimed was held in player accounts.

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“Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” said the US attorney. The site “cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” and “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.” The government is looking to recoup the money directors received from the site, including some $42 million for Lederer and $25 million for Ferguson, the Wall Street Journal reports. Full Tilt owed $390 million to players before April's crackdown but had only $60 million in the bank. (Read more Full Tilt Poker stories.)

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