The payment processor at the heart of a massive fraud targeting poker players has been sending “obnoxious” demand letters after players were able to recover their stolen funds...
Todd Witteles, the founder of Poker Fraud Alert, was among a number of high-profile players to be stung by the recent scam, which included Phil Galfond, Joseph Cheong, Kyna England and Kathy Liebert.
The scam targets players through Global Payments Inc and their Gaming Services division, which processes most legalized online gambling sites in the US.
Witteles, who was hit for $10,000 by the fraudsters, explained the basic scheme for the scam after conducting a deep investigation a few weeks ago: “For example, let's say you have deposited $4,000 in the past to WSOP.com, via eCheck, and it was processed by Global Payments. If you make a new account on BetMGM, which is not related to WSOP.com, Global Payments will again process your deposit there.
Herein lies the problem, as Witteles explains: “Rather than having to go through a rigorous check when you deposit on BetMGM, Global Payments will see you already passed that check, and if your personal information (name, social security number, date of birth, address) matches their records, they process the payment quickly without further scrutiny! This allows a fraudster with access to such personal information to create new accounts on other legalized gambling systems which utilize Global Payments, and easily steal directly from your bank account you previously used with them!”
Here's how the scam works, step-by-step:
- The scammer deposits from the victim’s bank account by accessing previously used bank account information and an eCheck system;
- A new Venmo account is created in the victim's name, and a Venmo Debit Mastercard is taken out to match that account;
- The deposit from the victim’s account – which so far has been as much as $10k – is then withdrawn to the new fake Venmo debit card;
- It is then sent from the fake Venmo account to a separate, unrelated Venmo account and, et voila, your money is gone.
Obnoxious demand lettersChicago pro, Kyna England, who was also stung by the scammers, managed to claw back her stolen money, but is now being chased by Global Payments Inc...
Witteles reported on PokerFraudAlert.com’s forums: “Kyna privately showed me the letter she received. It's obnoxious, and is demanding she jump through hoops in order to prove she doesn't owe the money. Outrageous! Others have received these letters, as well.”
Kathy Liebert also revealed she had received a letter from Global Payments Inc demanding money, and Witteles has been in contact with a Global Payments manager to complain.
He wrote: “I just wanted to inform you that a number of victimized poker players have been receiving collections letters from Global Payments after they reported the fraud to their banks. Global Payments is claiming that these players authorized these eChecks (false), and are demanding police reports and notarized statements in order for Global to wipe off the debt.
Witteles adds: “This is unfair to place such a burden upon victims of a well known scheme. One of the victims is named Kyna England. Another is *** *****. They have shown me the letters the have received."
He ends with: “While I realize you cannot provide me details regarding other players, I am urging Global Payments to stop sending these collections letters and write this fraud off as you told me was the plan. It is not fair to require these players to file police reports or get notarized letters in order to be reimbursed for fraud which largely occurred due to negligence on the part of BetMGM, Viejas, and Global Payments.”
In the latest update from Witteles, he apparently received a strange response from Global Payments Inc...