Most readers will be familiar with the long-running and often shocking reports on Internet poker irregularities and alleged in-house criminal activity at the two Tokwiro owned online poker sites Absolute Poker.com and UltimateBet.com, but this week the mainstream media giant MSNBC gave a wider audience the full lowdown in a detailed and professionally balanced report by senior MSNBC journo Michael Brunker.
Brunker reports that events have triggered an $85 million claim against Ultimatebet, whose employees allegedly manipulated the cyberspace card room’s software so that they could see their opponents’ hole cards. Brunker comments that the alleged occurrences represent the biggest known case of fraud targeting an Internet gambling site and its customers. It is similar to a case of cheating that occurred last year on UltimateBet’s sister site, AbsolutePoker.com, but this time the thieves ran the scheme for far longer — at least from January 2005 to January 2008.
Word of the $85 million U.S. claim ($80 million Canadian) — the first indication of the scope of the alleged cheating — emerged this week when Brunker contacted a court-appointed liquidator overseeing the voluntary dismemberment of Excapsa Software Inc. of Toronto, which formerly owned and licensed the poker software to UltimateBet and other gambling sites.
The claim was filed by Blast-Off Ltd. of Malta, a private company that currently has an ownership interest in Ultimate Bet.
“We’re taking it seriously and are in contact with the stakeholders with a goal of settling the claim,” said the liquidator, Sheldon Krakower, president of XMT Liquidations Inc. “… It’s a very touchy situation. We’re just trying to get everything done.”
Krakower said the amount of the claim did not directly correlate with the amount believed to have been stolen from UltimateBet players, but he declined to provide additional details. He said he was hopeful that the parties were nearing a settlement.
Brunker goes on to dissect and examine the happenings at Absolute and Ultimatebet in detail, covering the major role that player-detectives played in uncovering the scandal and producing evidence.
It also looks into the historical ownership and Kahnawake licensing of the sites and the official ownership of Tokwiro Enterprises, headed by ex-Mohawk Grand Chief Joe Norton.
In our opinion the long article is one of the most detailed and incisive yet published on a series of events that have captured the attention of online poker players and observers for months.
As Brunker observes: "The unprecedented claim is just the latest twist in a slowly unfolding whodunnit that began more than nine months ago when poker players posted comments about suspicious play on UltimateBet in an Internet poker forum. It’s a mystery steeped in international intrigue and featuring a cast of characters that includes some of the world’s most famous poker players, the former grand chief of a Canadian Mohawk community and executives of a secretive Oregon Internet security company."
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