January 5, 2023 Poker Gossip, Poker News Lars Liedtke

San Diego fraud ring targeted dozens of poker players in bank theft

PokerFraudAlert founder Todd Witteles has revealed that an organized San Diego fraud ring are behind the online banking scam that hit dozens of poker pros in the US.

The background

The story broke when Joseph Cheong took to Twitter with the shocking news: “I got debited via eCheck for $9.8k little over a week ago by @BetMGMPoker @BetMGMCasino somehow.”

Cheong added: “I don’t even have an account. Seems other poker players have also been hit by this scam (?). Highly recommend players to check their checking accounts just in case.”

That’s when Witteles went public, revealing he was already investigating after being stung for a 6-figure sum himself.

Well-known poker pros among the victims

He reminded the poker community this week: “I was one of the early victims of this. The fraudsters stole $10,000 from my bank account on October 20th, via a gaping and obvious security hole in @BetMGM and the @GlobalPayInc VIP Preferred service.”

Chance Kornuth, David Back, Sam Panzica, Kyna England, Kathy Liebert, and dozens of others were targeted in the simple but devious scam.

Global Payments, a company responsible for processing payments for many of the legalized US gambling sites, were found to be a weak point at the core of the fraudulent scheme.

Witteles explained: “Global Payments does the processing for most legalized online gambling sites in the US. When you deposit to WSOP.com online, it might feel like WSOP is processing the payment, but they’re not. It’s being done by Global Payments. Same with BetMGM. Same with many other US online gambling entities.”

How the scam operates

  • Scammer opens an account at a sportsbook and deposits from victim’s bank account using previously-stored information via Global Payments
  • Scammer opens a fake Venmo account in victim’s name,
  • Scammer takes out a matching Venmo debit Mastercard.
  • Sportsbook deposit is withdrawn to fake Venmo account
  • Fake Venmo account used to transfer to scammer’s legitimate Venmo
  • The money, as much as $10k per scam, is gone forever.

The Scammers Outed

“I can now confirm that the perpetrators were members of an organized fraud ring, based out of San Diego County,” Witteles revealed on his PFA forum.

Witteles explained further: “The fake phone number used on the BetMGM account created in my name was actually that of a burner phone, physically purchased in San Diego County.”

He added: “The IP address used for the fake e-mail account was not useful, as the perpetrators were using proxies or VPNs to access it. I have more info, but that’s all I feel is proper give right now. Stay tuned.”

However, he wasn’t able to reveal too much more about the organized crime gang behind the scam, stating: “There is an active criminal investigation going on. I will update regularly as I feel it is appropriate, not wanting to give out too much publicly at this time.

VIP-Grinders.com will continue to cover this and similar stories to keep you abreast of the latest scams and frauds you need to beware.

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Date (UTC-0)
25th Sep 22:00
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