The CEO who presided over online gambling site Full Tilt Poker was arrested last week for defrauding customers out of $430 million. Raymond Bitar surrendered himself to authorities at New York’s JFK International Airport as had been prearranged. According to charges his poker site had been operated as a Ponzi scheme, assuring players their money was safe by paying off with the money from newer players. Full Tilt was one of the sponsors that raised poker to virtual sport level with dozens of television shows on ESPN and other networks.
Bitar had been originally charged April 15, 2011, but had been on the run since then. He had continued to solicit new customers “long after such conduct was outlawed,” according to this story by Emily Jane Fox in CNN Money. He recently made a statement he had spent his 15 months on the lam trying to find ways to repay his players.
“The indictment alleges how Bitar bluffed his player-customers and fixed the game against them as part of an international Ponzi scheme that left players empty-handed,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Bitar will now be held criminally responsible for the alleged mufti-million fraud he perpetrated on his U.S. customers,” Fox reports.