Leading news site msnbc.com turned its attention to the poker world as a $75,000,000 claim was filed in relation to Ultimate Bet’s fraud scandal.

If you have never heard of Blast-Off Ltd., a Malta-based company, you are not the only one. However, msnbc.com discovered that Blast-Off has “an ownership interest in Ultimate Bet,” and they are the ones who filed the claim against Excapsa Software Inc. of Toronto, the company that originally licensed Ultimate Bet’s poker software and the ones potentially responsible for the software gap that led to the now infamous UB fraud case.

Excapsa Software is undergoing a voluntary dismemberment overseen by XMT Liquidations Inc., a court-appointed liquidator. Sheldon Krakower, president of XMT Liquidations Inc. stated that the amount of the claim is not directly correlated to the amount supposedly stolen through the fraud scheme, but he did not provide further details to msnbc other than these declarations:

We’re taking it seriously and are in contact with the stakeholders with a goal of settling the claim… It’s a very touchy situation. We’re just trying to get everything done.

Tokwiro Enterprises is known as the company that owns Ultimate Bet (which is why the existence of Blast-Off comes as a surprise to many,) and they have been making a brave effort to refund any and all players who lost money to fraudulent accounts operating between January 2005 and January 2008. Krakower tried to make some sense of the situation, saying Blast-Off and Tokwiro “are somewhat one and the same,” but adding, “Blast-Off … that’s the key name.”

The fraud and its aftermath were described by msnbc.com as “a mystery steeped in international intrigue,” and more questions were raised as reporters tried to make sense of the situation. On very broad lines this is what the article on msnbc.com posits:

  • UltimateBet’s poker software was developed in the late 1990s by ieLogic, based in Portland, Oregon.
  • ieLogic claimed its only relation to UB was the fact that it licensed their software.
  • In 2004 ieLogic sold its software to newly incorporated Excapsa Software.
  • The remaining portion of ieLogic was kept by founders Greg Pierson and Jon Karl, who changed the company’s name to iOvation, “a system for predicting online fraud.”
  • In 2006, Tokwiro bought Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.
  • Around that time, Blast-Off purchased Excapsa Software.

The issue became very murky long before this point, as many of these companies were led by the same people; some of the names that kept cropping up in the msnbc report are Jon Karl, Melissa Gaddis and even Jim Ryan (currently CEO of Party Poker,) all of whom were involved with one or several of these companies through their various names and incarnations.
This reporter must apologize for not making more sense, but after reading all the evidence it seems that Blast-Off is suing a company it owns, Excapsa, which it is at the same time trying to disband into non-existence. Even msnbc.com could not be clearer on this issue, claiming: “The ownership question could be cleared up at the conclusion of an outside investigation of the UltimateBet cheating ordered by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.” As soon as more light is shed on this complicated affair we will be first to give you an update.

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