High-profile Internet poker Web site Full Tilt Poker defrauded players out of more than $300 million, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged.
In a complaint filed Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, the website is described as a Ponzi scheme that enriched well-known poker players Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson and other owners, who privately reaped $444 million from the scheme.
The website says it will hold money in accounts belonging to participants, but that money was used for purposes other than that, authorities said.
"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The statement said the website "cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars."
"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," Bharara said.
Company attorneys did not respond immediately to inquires about the complaint, The Wall Street Journal said. Attempts to reach Ferguson's attorneys and Lederer were not successful, the newspaper said.
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