The US federal prosecutors stated Tuesday that one of the online poker rooms that was driven out of the US online poker market in April is actually a major Ponzi scheme at a global level. The Department of Justice (DoJ) made certain amendments in their civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker, the online poker room referred to, in which they alleged that the online poker company used player funds to pay the owners hundreds and millions of dollars.

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According to the investigators, the online poker company used $444 million belonging to online poker players to pay its board members, including professional poker pros Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson.

Full Tilt Poker had led its US poker players to believe that their funds were safe, secure, and protected and wouldn’t be used for any other purpose; but the US DoJ says that company was down to $60 million in its bank accounts in March while it had to pay around $390 to its players. FTP stands accused of mixing up player funds with investor and owner funds and using other players’ deposits to pay out winnings.

Preet Bharara, the US attorney, has issued a strong statement to the effect that FTP is not only guilty of bank fraud, as previously alleged, but is also guilty of cheating its own players of millions of dollars.

It may be recalled that the US federal government had cracked down on 3 major poker giants Absolute Poker, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker this April and had lodged a criminal complaint against FTP executives Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick. The federal government is yet to make certain arrests.

According to US law, accepting gambling-related funds amounts to unlawful gambling, which is punishable by law. But big online poker companies continue offering online poker services to US players on grounds that they are outside the reach of US gambling laws, being based in offshore locations.

In its amended lawsuit, the US DoJ holds that Full Tilt Poker had assured its poker players that their funds are separate, safe, and secure and have nothing to do with FTP operating funds, but had actually used player funds for various purposes such as paying board members and owners.

According to the DoJ indictment, Bitar and Lederer received $41 million and $42 million, respectively. It also states that, while Ferguson was supposed to have received $87.5 million, he might have received just $25 million.

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