A number of high-profile poker players have been the victims of a fraudster using a cashout scam involving bank fraud, identity theft, and the Global Payments eCheck system.
The issue came to light over the last 24 hours after pros, including Kyna England, Joseph Cheong, and Todd Witteles, reported having amounts of up to $10K debited from their bank accounts.
Witteles spotted the issue late last week but didn’t make his suspicions public until other people came forward. He believes the scam is due to an issue with Global Payments, a processor used by licensed US poker sites, including WSOP.com and BetMGM.
Witteles breaks down payment scam
The founder of Poker Fraud Alert detailed his findings in a series of forum threads. He believes the fraudster has obtained the personal details of high-profile poker players and used them to create accounts at BetMGM Poker and WSOP.com.
*** IMPORTANT ***
A scammer has obtained identity info of many known poker pros, and has been directly stealing from their bank accounts. I have been aggressively investigating this, and compiled what I know in the below linked article:https://t.co/wQVlza2KHq
RT for awareness
— Todd Witteles (@ToddWitteles) November 16, 2022
The fraudster has also used the stolen data to deposit money from each victim’s bank account onto a poker site. Once these deposits have been processed, the fraudster requests a withdrawal to a different payment source.
Witteles believes the fraudster is creating accounts at legal online poker sites using stolen data, which includes a person’s name, address, and Social Security Number. They’re also able to circumnavigate the geolocation technology used by licensed US gambling sites.
The criminal was able to create an account at BetMGM West Virginia using Witteles’ details. Witteles doesn’t live in West Virginia and, he suspects, neither does the scammer. Despite this, they were able to create an account at BetMGM and make a deposit via Witteles’ bank account.
Making deposits using Global Payments
How did the fraudster make a deposit via Witteles’ bank account without having access to it? Witteles believes the fraudster is using a potential flaw in the payment system known as VIP Preferred.
This eCheck processor is owned by Global Payments Gaming Solutions and is available at the majority of legal US poker sites.
VIP Preferred is linked to a person’s bank account. Therefore, if the victim has used it before, their bank details are stored in the VIP Preferred database. This facilitates faster deposits and withdrawals (i.e. the user doesn’t need to input their bank details each time they want to make a payment).
“VIP Preferred is a fast and easy way to access your cash at more than 500 gaming establishments. Once enrolled, simply present your ID to a casino cashier and obtain your cash,” reads the information on the VIP Preferred website. “It’s quick, easy and hassle-free. VIP Preferred also offers you the convenience of cashing checks electronically, also known as e-checks, without having to bring your checkbook.”
The way the system works has allowed the fraudster to open a poker account they’ve created under someone else’s name and choose VIP Preferred as their deposit option. Assuming the victim has used VIP Preferred before, money is drawn from their account without the fraudster needing their bank details.
Once the deposit has been processed, the fraudster creates a fake Venmo account using the victim’s personal details. Venmo is a mobile payment service similar to PayPal and other eWallets.
The fraudster then requests a withdrawal from the poker site and chooses Venmo as the payment processor. When the funds have been withdrawn to the fake Venmo account, they transfer the money to their own Venmo account and the scam is complete.
Poker players urged to be vigilant
Witteles has urged affected players to contact him via Twitter. He’s also said that poker players should check their accounts and, if they’ve used VIP Preferred and/or Venmo, close the associated bank accounts.
This happened to me too through some third party online casino connected to my WSOP account. I have to fill out fraud paperwork and get a police report.
— Kyna England (@Kyna_CooL) November 15, 2022
It’s important to note that the issues don’t appear to be with BetMGM Poker or any other regulated poker site. Instead, the fraudster has found a way to steal people’s personal information and exploit weaknesses in Global Payment’s software and third-party geolocation trackers.