Utah Indicts Online Gambling Payment Processors

On Friday 11th May, the U.S. attorney for Utah announced charges against various individuals and companies involved in the processing of payments for online gambling operations.

The seven defendants are accused of creating three companies to conduct fraudulent credit card and wire transfers for their clients, for online gaming sites based outside the U.S, the indictment said.

One company, named as CurrenC and CurrenC Worldwide, based in other countries including Korea, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom, processed most of the credit card and wire transfers. But two other companies, Hill Financial Services and Gateway Technologies, based in Utah, are accused of providing accounting and technical services for the illegal business and were used to track transactions, claimed Attorney Brett Tolman.

AThe defendants live in Las Vegas, but two of the companies involved were based in Draper, a Salt Lake City suburb, according to the indictment.

The news came as a shock, especially to think that anyone would process payments for online gambling operators in a state that does not even have a lottery.

None of the companies mentioned in the complaint were using the processors in question following the passage of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) last October. In fact, one of the companies named, BetonSports, was shut down nearly a year ago.

At a news conference, U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said “We now have a body of information technology and strategy that can cross many jurisdictions”.

He added “The investigation is ongoing to determine if employees at the Utah businesses were aware they were involved in criminal activity, and therefore could also face charges”.

The 34-count indictment includes charges of racketeering conspiracy, bank fraud, transmission of wagers and money laundering. It also claims that banks issuing Visa and MasterCard credit cards were fooled into processing Internet gambling charges. Defendants also channeled Western Union wire transfers through the Philippines.

“There are layers of facade that have to be pulled back and uncovered,” Tolman said.

The indictment seeks to recover $150 million from the defendants as well as real estate, vehicles and other assets under RICO, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law.

None of the defendants is in custody, but all are scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on 30th May.

Tolman said “The government is not seeking their detention pending the hearing because they are not considered flight risks or threats to the community”.

Utah has made it clear that they believe all forms of gambling should be illegal, as opposed to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl who believes it is ok to gamble, but only if betting on horses.

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