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Poker Site Ponzi Scheme Paid $440M to Board, Celebrity Players, Other Owners, Feds Say in Suit

Posted Sep 20, 2011 2:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a stunning follow-up to an earlier civil forfeiture and money-laundering complaint unsealed in April, federal prosecutors today accused owners and operators of the Full Tilt Poker website of running a massive Ponzi scheme.

As board members and owners, including star celebrity players Christopher Ferguson and Howard Lederer, allegedly pocketed some $440 million in player funds, the company was left with $60 million in the bank and $390 million owed to players worldwide, according to an 89-page amended complaint (PDF), plus attachments, filed today in federal court in Manhattan by the U.S. Attorney's office there.

The New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Money & Company blog of the Los Angeles Times all have stories on the claimed scheme.

The company's lawyer was not immediately available for comment, the Associated Press reports.

In a written statement, Full Tilt Poker recently blamed the indictment earlier this year of two founders and the government seizure of its cash accounts, domain name and shutdown of its site, as well as what the company said was a massive theft by one of its payment processors, for its difficulties in repaying customers, Forbes reported.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "DOJ Shutters Popular Poker Sites in Crackdown on Online Gambling Operation"

Money & Company (Los Angeles Times): "Full Tilt Poker defends itself and its CEO amid FBI crackdown"

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