Tweets Uncover Ongoing Scam Costing Poker Players $10,000

Tweets Uncover Ongoing Scam Costing Poker Players $10,000

This week’s Twittertainment is a warning to all U.S. poker players. Despite licensed online poker sites offering a safe and legal way to play, a fraudster is currently exploiting a popular payment system and stealing up to $10,000 from unsuspecting players. 

Rumblings of a problem began to echo across the Twittersphere on Tuesday. Todd Witteles, Kyna England, and Joseph Cheong were among the first poker pros to report strange withdrawals from their bank accounts. 

They later discovered that their details had been used to create accounts at BetMGM Poker and WSOP poker app. More suspicious transactions have since come to light, with Kathy Liebert and Melissa Burr among the pros to be targeted. 

Scam Stings Poker Pros for up to $10,000

At the heart of the scam is a fraudster (or team of fraudsters) who has obtained the personal details of various poker players. 

They are using this information to create accounts at licensed US online poker sites. Once they’ve done this, they’re making deposits using VIP Preferred.

VIP Preferred is a popular payment method for online poker players because it offers a quick way to deposit and withdraw eChecks. 

The nature of the system is such that a user’s bank account details can be stored so the user doesn’t need to enter them each time they want to make a payment.

It's this feature of VIP Preferred that appears to be the vulnerability being exploited by the fraudster/s. 

How Can Someone Steal from Poker Players?

Todd Witteles has taken it upon himself to keep track of the scam and push for answers. He detailed his recent findings on Poker Fraud Alert. 

It’s his view that BetMGM and WSOP.com aren’t to blame. The issue appears to be with VIP Preferred, a product owned by Global Payments. Witteles believes the fraudster is stealing money from poker players by doing the following:

1. The fraudster steals the personal details of various poker players, including their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number. 

2. The fraudster uses these personal details to open an account with a licensed U.S. poker site. (Somehow, they’re able to evade the geolocation checks).

3. The fraudster makes a deposit using VIP Preferred. If the poker player has used this system within the last few years to make a deposit, their bank account details could be stored by VIP Preferred. This means the fraudster can make a deposit without needing to input any bank account details.

4. Using the same stolen data that allowed them to create fake poker accounts, the fraudster sets up a fake Venmo account.  The fraudster waits for the deposit to be processed by the poker site and then requests a withdrawal using Venmo

5. Once the funds have been sent from the poker site to the fake Venmo account, the fraudster transfers the funds to their own Venmo account, thus relieving the victim of cash amounts up to $10,000.

How to Protect Your Bankroll

Witteles has instructed players to close any bank accounts linked to VIP Preferred and Venmo. He’s also asking for everyone to be on high alert and report any further instances of fraud. 

The race is now on to stop the fraudster/s. As ever, the poker community has rallied and players are using Twitter to alert others and report their findings. 

The companies involved may be the only ones that can track down the fraudster/s. However, if enough poker players flood Twitter with updates and they contact Global Payments, there will be very few places for the fraudster/s to hide. 

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