IRS Seizes $3.9 Million from Unnamed Pro Poker Player
The Internel Revenue Service (IRS) seized $3,926,478.11 from an unnamed professional poker player living in Newport, Oregon. US District Court Judge Anna Brown gave the IRS orders to seize the funds, which includes crypto-currency, after finding the card player guilty of other crimes.
KOIN 6 News, which reported the story, did not name the 28-year old poker pro, because the feds have not arrested him — or even formally charged him with a crime. Given the fact the judge ordered the funds seized because of the sale of pirates movies and TV shows, charges could be forthcoming.
The sales of pirated videos were substantial. Documents from the federal court in Oregon claim the poker player is not the only target in the probe.
The court documents describe “other known and unknown co-conspirators“, a sign that the case could become a major news story.
It remains unknown whether the poker player in the case is famous or not. The only indication he is a card player comes from the man’s lawyer, who claimed he is a “professional poker player“. Given the sums of money he allegedly made from the movie pirating business ($6 million a year), he would have the funds to enter many live tournaments or play as a high roller in cash games.
Noobroom Dotcom Video Pirating
The case goes back all the way to 2013, when Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents began monitoring the defendant’s activities. Federal authorities tracked hundreds of thousands of payments to two websites: www.noobroom.com and www.noobroom7.com. PayPal alerted the Homeland Security about the payments, because their own internal auditors found them suspicious.
Last week, federal prosecutors asked a judge in Eugene, Oregon to seize the $3.926 million in funds. To do so, they seized six different accounts the player owned. The accounts included four JPMorgan-Chase bank accounts, as well as a Bitcoin and Ethereum account apiece.
Judge Anna Brown approved the seizure, writing in her opinion, “You are hereby commanded to arrest and take into your possession until further order of the Court…assorted funds.”
Rain Minns Cites 4th Amendment Violations
A lawyer for the poker player claim the seizures violate their client’s 4th Amendment and 5th Amendment rights. Rain Minns, a Texas attorney (for the defendant) who specializes in white collar crimes, told KOIN 6 News, “We don’t generally comment on a current case, but as a matter of principle the government should not grab a person’s assets and strip them of their resources unless and until proven guilty.”
Minns told reporters her client is a professional poker player. She claimed he regularly enters Las Vegas poker tournaments, including the annual World Series of Poker events. Given the various clues offered by court filings, the gaming media should know the person’s name soon. If it does not, then the defendent is an amateur high roller with money to blow on poker tournaments.
Seized House and Video Items
In a seperate filing, Judge Brown ordered the seizure of the man’s home in Newport. Prosecutors allege his home was part of the scheme to launder money, though they did not give details how. Real estate is one of the primary ways criminals launder money.
Judge Brown wrote in the seizure document, “It is ordered that the Internal Revenue Service is hereby authorized to enter the Defendant real property.”
The judge approved entering, “Any structures, on one or more occasions during the pendency of this civil forfeiture proceeding.”
The order got into the fine details of the poker player’s belongings, including video footage and still photos. Brown called for a full account of the man’s property, so the IRS could seize all his funds. She ordered an audit“for the purpose of conducting an inspection and inventory and appraisal…which may include still and video photography.”
Movie Pirating Business Raked in Millions per Year
November court filings in Judge Malcom March’s court show a lucrative business ranging into the millions of dollars. IRS Special Agent Keith Druffel said he found $6.3 million deposited in the man’s Stripes account. Stripes is an online payment service similar to PayPal.
Druffel alleged that the accused man used several other websites to sell pirate movies. The IRS agent named Movietv.to, Sit2play.com, and Superchillin as other sites the poker player used.
The IRS Special Agent said the pirating business’s revenues increased every year since 2014. Over the past 18 months, the revenue stream reached a point where the player was making much huge profits. Druffel said, “I determined that (he) received substantial revenue from the above listed websites. In 2018, he was averaging over $500,000 per month.”
“Also in 2017, (he) received over $2.2 million. In 2016, (he) received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, (he) received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue.”
MPAA Tried to Intervene
The card player received ample warning, but did not comply with requests to end sales. At a point, the sales of pirated movies reached such a level that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) tried to shut down the sites. The FBI worked with private investigators at the MPAA to end the pirating, but it took the intervention of federal judges to shut down the operation.
Agent Druffel said, “Approximately, five days after the MPAA sent the cease-and-desist letter to Noobroom, the MPAA received an email to its undercover subscription at Noobroom….The email advised that user accounts had been moved to a new website, www.superchillin.com.”
Prior to asking Judge Brown and Judge March to intervene, the IRS concluded the card player did not a traditional job. They searched and found no means of legit income, which raised red flags. Agent Druffel added, “(He) was found to have no verifiable legitimate income sources.”