WSOP bracelet winner Corey Zeidman has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy in a scheme that defrauded sportsbettors out of $25million.
Sixty-one-year-old Zeidman from Boca Raton in Florida is accused of being the ringleader of a shady sportsbetting gang known as the “Phoenix Organization”.
The two-count indictment against Zeidman was unsealed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and alleges that the gang pulled in at least $25 million over the course of a decade and a half by selling false information to unsuspecting customers.
The customers were led to believe that Zeidman and his co-conspirators had inside information on College and Professional Sporting Events, and paid for the fake tips.
The group placed radio ads throughout the United States, falsely advertising a “sophisticated white-collar approach to gathering sports information”.
With the promise of “wagering as investing, not high-risk gambling,” listeners were instructed to call a specified telephone number, upon which they were told that “certain sporting events were predetermined, or ‘fixed’.”
United States Attorney Breon Peace explained: “As alleged, Zeidman defrauded his victims, stole their life savings and persuaded them to drain their retirement accounts to invest in his bogus sports betting group, all so he could spend it on international vacations, a multi-million-dollar residence and poker tournaments.”
Zeidman is said to have used numerous aliases during the fraudulent scheme, posing variously as Richard Barnes, Walter Barr, Mr. Carlyle, Ray Palmer, Rick Cash, Elliot Stern, Gordon Howard, David Coates, Simon Coates, Paul Knox, Mark Lewis, Joel Orenstein and Steve Nash.
The ruse also varied the company names used to carry out the fraud, with Gordon Howard Global, Ray Palmer Group and Grant Sports International named in the indictment.
Zeidman appears to have been left holding the can by one of his fellow fraudsters, named only in court documents as “Co-Conspirator #1, an individual whose identity is known to the Grand Jury.”
“Co-Conspirator #1” is noted as also holding “a leadership role in the “Phoenix Organization” through which he, his co-conspirators and others committed the fraud and money laundering described herein.”
US Postal Inspector in Charge of the investigation, Daniel Brubaker, claims Zeidman “devised a criminal scheme to fatten his pockets using nothing more than people’s love for sports and his clever words wrapped around a fraud.”
Ricky J. Patel, Acting Special Agent in Charge for New York’s Homeland Security Investigations said Zeidman “preyed on individuals who were led to believe he had inside information that would lead them to easy money.
“In reality, he was selling nothing but lies and misinformation— bilking millions from victims along the way, leaving their lives in financial ruin and their bank accounts empty.”
Zeidman’s poker record includes a WSOP gold bracelet, taking down the 7-card Stud Hi/Lo event for a career best $201,559. His Hendon Mob listing shows cashes totalling $691,141 dating from the 1997 WSOP all the way through to the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in March of this year.
Zeidman is now facing a possible jail term as well as forfeiture of dozens of bank accounts in various names, as well as two properties in Florida, in addition to a $25million judgment.
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