Feds Accuse Full Tilt Poker of Being a 'Global Ponzi Scheme'

The Feds say Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson's website defrauded players

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Poker celebrities Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson (pictured above) are in deep trouble with the Feds. The U.S. Justice Department is accusing the two, alongside other executives of mega poker website FullTiltPoker.com, of hosing players out of at least $300 million, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using a rather popular term these days, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara called Full Tilt a "Global Ponzi Scheme":

The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York filed a motion Tuesday to amend an earlier civil complaint to allege that Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Lederer and two other directors for the website, Full Tilt Poker, operated what the Justice Department says was a Ponzi scheme that allowed the company to pay out $444 million to themselves and other owners, which included other famous poker players.

In the complaint, the government alleges Full Tilt executives misrepresented to the website's players that the money the company was supposed to be holding in player accounts was safely held when it was actually being used for other purposes, including owner profits.

In a statement, Bharara says the website "cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars" adding that "insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company." Lederer and Ferguson's mastery of the game of poker has been obsessed over on YouTube, and Lederer even has his own videogame named after him.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.