Pro poker players fall victim to fake sports betting accounts

Dozens of fraudulent accounts have been set up on online sports betting apps in recent weeks, many using the personal information of professional poker players, and unauthorized bank withdrawals in excess of $10,000 have been processed, leading one alleged victim to be one of the worst thefts in the world the poker community denotes history.

Several of the fraudulent accounts were created on BetMGM’s sports betting app.

“We are aware of a possible incident and are actively investigating,” a BetMGM spokesman said in a statement to ESPN. “The security of our customers’ accounts is of the utmost importance to us. We encourage all affected customers to contact our customer service department directly.”

Online payment processor Global Payments Gaming Solutions, one of the deposit options at BetMGM and other online gambling sites, said in a statement that it is assisting law enforcement in an investigation into “fraudulent accounts set up with unaffiliated third parties using stolen personal information “.

“No security breaches or fraudulent accounts have been opened in our gaming business in connection with this investigation,” a spokesman for Global Payments said in a statement. “Protecting our customers and their customers’ information and funds is our top priority and we are working with these third parties to ensure all affected individuals receive a refund.”

The company did not respond to questions about the scope of the fraud, which authorities were involved in the investigation, or what steps were taken to ensure the problem did not persist.

Todd Witteles, a prominent California poker pro, said a betting account at BetMGM in West Virginia was opened in his name with a $10,000 deposit directly from his checking account. Witteles says he doesn’t have an account with a BetMGM site and has never been to West Virginia. A $7,500 withdrawal to a Venmo debit card was processed the same day the account was opened. The remaining $2,500 was withdrawn in the same manner on Nov. 4, Witteles said.

“They retired to another account the same day without ever playing on the account,” Witteles told ESPN on Friday.

Witteles said he is working with a local detective and his bank, but as of Friday his $10,000 had not been returned. Las Vegas poker pro Joseph Cheong tweeted that BetMGM had charged him $9,800, and many other poker players also posted on social media that they were affected. Some players affected by lower amounts told ESPN they had their money refunded. Witteles estimates the number of victims at over 50.

“This is definitely the worst case of bank account theft in poker history,” he said. “I’ve seen cheating scandals at the poker table, online and live, that have resulted in major thefts, but as far as outright theft of bank accounts, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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