On Friday the F.B.I. seized the websites of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker and temporarily froze 76 bank accounts associated with the sites. Online gambling in the U.S. has been technically illegal since 2006, but 11 people from the three online poker sites allegedly used fraudulent means to continue to accept payments from U.S. players to get around the controversial ban. They’re facing charges of money laundering which can carry penalties of more than $3 billion. All of the defendants may serve up to five years in prison, and some are facing charges with maximum sentences of 30 years in prison.
The authorities are likely being aided in their investigation by Daniel Tzvetkoff, an Australian entrepreneur who started his first company at age 13 and who had set up payment processing schemes for several poker sites. He knows the financial details of these poker sites intimately and can reverse engineer financial transactions. He also allegedly embezzled over $100 million from Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars. Last April, Tzvetkoff was arrested in Las Vegas after Full Tilt Poker and/or Poker Stars tipped off the authorities that he would be in the United States. At first he was denied bail as a flight risk, but after a meeting with prosecutors he was bailed out in August and is believed to be cooperating with the investigation of several poker websites, including the website(s) who turned him in to the police. For future reference, if you’re doing something illegal and your accomplice steals from you, don’t go to the police and say, “Arrest that man! He stole some of the laundered money I’m not supposed to have.”
In-Class Lap Dance, Perchance?
Jack Rappaport, a professor at La Salle University (a private Roman Catholic school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), has been suspended for allegedly paying strippers to give lap dances to himself and students in the classroom during an “after-class optional seminar”. Well, if it was after class and optional, there might be a reasonable explanation. Human sexuality classes can always get a bit controversi– what? It wasn’t a sexuality class? It was a statistics class at the business school? Oh, you cheeky professor. What statistics lesson were they learning from this? The probability of the professor being fired? The number of students who can simultaneously be creeped out by their teacher? The likelihood of becoming a stripper if you have a kid at age 16? Maybe it was relevant after all.
- Here’s an update on the outbreak of respiratory illness which occurred at the Playboy Mansion earlier this year. Legionella pneumophila (which can cause Legionnaires’ disease) was found in a whirlpool spa at the Mansion. It hasn’t been conclusively linked to the outbreak, but we still don’t recommend chugging water from of the grotto. (LATimes, picture via willzone)
- There are only two people left who can still speak the Ayapaneco language. They live about 500 meters apart in a Mexican village. Unfortunately, they are no longer talking to each other. (Guardian)
- A suspected serial killer in California may have been choosing victims based on their first name and last name starting with the same letter. And yet the Kardashian sisters continue their reign of terror. (Arbroath)
KNOW YOUR STATS
- Today is tax day, and a poll of people expecting refunds found 56% planned to save the money, 17% planned to invest it, 17% planned to pay down debt, and 14% planned to spend it. Among bloggers who found out they owed much more than they thought, 100% refuse to reduce their spending on sweatpants and vodka. Among people filing for taxes, 39% are using software and/or online solutions and 30% are using chain preparation services or a personal accountant. Among bloggers, 100% are using crayons and swearing. (Mashable)
- All but four U.S. states (Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, and Montana) are still going to have budget shortfalls this year. The largest shortfall is in Connecticut, where the state is overspending by $1,449.57 per person. That would buy a lot of sweatpants and vodka. (Mint)