Washington – Several top online gambling sites saw their
domains seized by U.S. authorities late on Friday, and now face charges they
schemed to work around the U.S. ban on bank processing of Internet wagers. The
FBI and Justice Department took actions against PokerStars and founder Isai
Scheinberg; Full Tilt Poker and founder Raymond Bitar, and the principals of
sites including Absolute Poker, UB and seven other sites based outside of the
U.S., effectively shuttering their businesses.
The indictments allege that the
companies tried to cover up gambling payments as other things, such as jewelry,
flowers or golf balls, and seek the return of a total of some $3 billion.
first defendant, Bradley Franzen, pleaded not guilty in federal court in
Manhattan to charges he operated a fraudulent payment processing service that
covered up gambling transactions, Reuters reported.
Another defendant, John
Campos — a part owner of Utah-based SunFirst Bank — is slated to appear in
court later today.