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Internet Crook STEALS $$$ From Unsuspecting Poker Players


A series of prominent poker pros have revealed that they've been the target of a sophisticated bank fraud scheme whereby up to $10,000 at a time was stolen from their checking accounts. This underhanded activity was facilitated through online poker accounts – not at allegedly unsafe offshore gaming providers but rather at regulated online poker sites in the United States that many players have come to trust with their banking info.

An online crook is intercepting poker players' data and committing bank fraud

Who Has Been Targeted?

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The first person to claim to have been affected by this type of unauthorized banking transaction was WSOP bracelet winner Joseph Cheong. Cheong, a well-known poker pro based in Las Vegas, posted his experience on Twitter on Tuesday, Nov. 15:

Joseph Cheong tweet about being victim of bank fraud

Just a couple of hours later, Todd “DanDruff” Witteles replied, explaining that he had also been the victim of similar wrongdoing:

Todd Witteles tweet about bank fraud

Witteles is not only a successful poker player, but he's also the owner of a website dedicated to uncovering fraud within the poker community. He opted to collect information from fellow poker fans who had been targeted by similar scams.

This list includes ClubGG Ambassador Kyna England, three-time WSOP bracelet winner David Bach, Brock Wilson and perhaps as many as 20 poker pros in total. Witteles said that he knows of one “big name” who was affected by this fraud who elected to remain anonymous.

What Happened to Their Money?

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By combining his own experiences with those of others, Todd Witteles was able to get an idea of what was going on. He shared his thoughts with others in his own forum, on Twitter, and on the “Only Friends” podcast with Matt Berkey.

On Oct. 20, someone created an account in Todd's name at BetMGM West Virginia, an operator with which Witteles had never had an account. The fraudster was then able to deposit $10,000 from Todd's bank account.

He or she withdraw $7,500 of it almost immediately via Venmo to a fake account in Witteles' name. The crook then moved this money from the fake Todd Witteles Venmo account to another Venmo account, presumably his or her own. The final $2,500 was similarly withdrawn on Nov. 4.

The Global Payments Gaming Solutions Connection

Witteles was understandably surprised that anyone could have access to his bank account and initiate transactions without his knowledge. His research soon focused on Global Payments Gaming Solutions.

This is a firm that provides payment processing solutions for the U.S. regulated online gaming industry as well as brick-and-mortar casinos. Global Payments offers what it calls “VIP Preferred” deposits. This allows anyone who has successfully conducted an eCheck deposit in the past to commence another one without having to supply all the banking and personal details that are required for the first transaction.

Todd Witteles tweet about bank fraudHomepage of Global Payments Gaming Solutions

What makes this VIP Preferred deposit method so potentially dangerous is that the expedited transaction process applies to any customer who has made a successful eCheck deposit with Global Payments before – even if this previous transaction was at a completely different gaming site! That's right: You could make a deposit at Site A through Global Payments, then create an account at Site B and use your existing information on file to complete a deposit on Site B without having to reenter your banking details.

In Witteles' case, the criminal merely needed to know his first and last name, mailing address, and the last four digits of Todd's Social Security Number in order to have Witteles' banking information auto-populate in the BetMGM software.

Todd had previously made an eCheck deposit at, which is why Global Payments had him in their database. The scammer was then able to access this same bank account at his fake BetMGM account to make a deposit and steal Witteles' money.

What Gaming Providers Are Involved?

Though there are dozens of U.S.A. casinos, sportsbooks, and poker roomss that could theoretically be subject to this kind of malfeasance, in practice, the scammer is plying his trade at only a few of them. New, fake accounts have been created at:

    • BetMGM (multiple states)
    • Borgata New Jersey
    • Viejas Casino (California)

The criminal appears to like to open accounts in states located far away from the victim probably because people are less likely to legitimately have an account based in a far-off state. It's possible for the scammer to manage accounts without traveling to the states where the sites are based because almost every legal, state-approved internet gaming service lets users sign up and conduct banking from anywhere even if gameplay is strictly reserved for those within the borders of a single state.

Curiously, everyone who has been a victim thus far is a professional-level poker shark with at least a modicum of popularity and/or fame. It may be the case that the mastermind behind this fraud has acquired somehow a list of names, addresses, and social security numbers and is poring through it manually, attacking anyone whose name he recognizes.

How to Protect Yourself

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In this situation, as in many others, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to safeguard yourself against this scam is by not using eCheck deposits in the first place. Every individual who has been affected by this kind of fraud has used Global Payments Gaming Solutions' eCheck deposits.

If you've already deposited via eCheck in the past, then it's recommended that you close all bank accounts associated with those eChecks. In addition, you can call Venmo to see if any accounts have been recently opened in your name. The scam involves withdrawing money into fake Venmo accounts, so you can block this segment of it by having any such bogus accounts closed. If you do have a legitimate Venmo account, it's probably safe to keep it because the fraudster doesn't appear to be targeting people's real Venmo accounts.

Ironically, those players who are safest from this scam are likely those who play at offshore sites. They do not use Global Payments' services, and so they are immune from any misuse of its VIP Preferred product. They're also notorious for their sometimes-burdensome ID verification protocols and playthrough requirements, which would prevent the scammer from withdrawing money the same day he deposited it into a fraudulent account.

There Are Still Safe Places for Poker Online

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If you would like to set up accounts for online poker without having to worry about bank fraud or identity theft, then there are any number of organizations that permit this. Many of them are based overseas, and they are proud of their ability to provide privacy-enabling deposit and withdrawal channels, like Bitcoin.

To learn more about the available destinations for USA online poker, check out this guide to offshore poker rooms for Americans. Rest assured that this pastime is fully legal, and you can find out more about this subject in an overview of federal and state laws as they apply to online poker.