It will definitely be interesting to see what happens to the sites in the end. Supposedly this has been happening to poker sites for the last couple of years but this is the first that all of these big names came out together like this.The poker world was shaken Friday as the owners of the three largest online poker sites -- PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker -- were charged with bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney announced the indictments of those involved with the online poker sites as well as those who were responsible for the financial transactions. The 11 defendants are Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate (PokerStars), Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick (Full Tilt Poker), Scott Tom and Brent Beckley (Absolute Poker), and Ryan Lang, Ira Rubin, Bradley Franzen, Chad Elie and John Campos (involved with payment processors).
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in the indictment: "As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits."
The charges are conspiracy to violate Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), violation of UIGEA, operation of illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy . Maximum penalties from these charges range from five years in prison and a $250,000 fine to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine (or twice the gross gain or loss).
"These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck," said Janice Fedarcyk, FBI assistant director-in-charge. "They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing to flout the law for a fee. The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost."
The complaint also alleged that these companies used "fraudulent methods" to trick financial institutions into receiving payments.
"[The sites] arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls."