The U.S. Attorney Now Claims That Full Tilt Poker Was A Ponzi Scheme
Wednesday, 21. September 2011

With an estimated $360 million in worldwide player accounts still locked up with Full Tilt Poker, players around the globe were waiting with baited breath for the outcome of the Alderney Gaming Control Commission (AGCC) hearing that began this past Monday in London. Just when players thought that they might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office effectively collapsed the tunnel. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced yesterday that the U.S. Attorney’s office was going to be amending their original complaint against Full Tilt Poker that was unsealed on Black Friday .

The amended complaint alleges that Full Tilt Poker and its board members (a list of names that includes the CEO Ray Bitar, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst) were running a Ponzi scheme that ended up defrauding players for upwards of $444 million. Bharara stated that Full Tilt Poker was not operated with legitimate intentions; rather, it was a global Ponzi scheme and that “Full Tilt Poker insiders lined their own pockets” with their players’ money and lied to both their members and the public at large with regards to the safety and security of player accounts.

According to the complaint, Bitar, Ferguson, Lederer and Furst were listed as among the founders of Full tilt Poker as well as partial owners of Tiltware, LCC. Tiltware is a California limited liability company that served as the beneficial owner of all of the different entities that makes up Full Tilt Poker.

Approximately 23 different people maintained shares in Full Tilt Poker with the Full Tilt Poker insiders mentioned in the complaint owning the following percentages of Tiltware LLC: Ferguson (19.2%), Lederer (8.6%), Bitar (7.8%) and Furst (2.6%).

The amended complaint goes on to state that as of this past March, Full Tilt Poker owed their worldwide player base a total of $390 million with $150 million of that being owned to their US players. With only $60 million currently present in their various bank accounts, this means that an unbelievable $330 million disappeared into the ether. In truth, it didn’t really disappear into the ether when you consider that between April 2007 and April 2011, Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson and Furst all lined their pockets with just over $443,860,000.

It would appear that Full Tilt Poker’s troubles began when they ran into difficulty collecting money from their US players due to the various disruptions in their payment processing channels. Rather than disclose the issue, Full Tilt Poker chose to credit player accounts for money that was actually never collected. In essence, they allowed their US player to play with “phantom” money.

In short, if you had money in a Full Tilt Poker account and were hoping that a positive outcome from the AGCC hearing might allow you to finally have access to your funds in the near future then forget about it.

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