Online Poker Players Expose Alleged Fraud

In the Texas Hold 'Em game used in the tournament, players are dealt two cards down and then make a hand from five community cards that are exposed one at time on the table for all to see. It's a game of patience where players tend throw in a lot of hands without betting, waiting for a suitable opener.

Arem traced the IP address of the observer back to the Kahnawak Gaming Commission, the collection of servers in Canada at which AbsolutePoker was based.

Further sleuthing seems to link that IP address to a part-owner of the company, Scott Tom, and the Potripper account to a former director of operations at AbsolutePoker named AJ Ripper, Johnson said.

"It looks like the Potripper account is registered to AJ Ripper and Scott Tom's e-mail turned up. But I can't say for sure that someone else wasn't using his account, or it wasn't someone else sitting at his computer," Johnson said.

Neither Ripper nor Scott could be reached by ABC NEWS.com.

Ravitch estimated that AbsolutePoker stole between $500,000 and $1 million over a two-week period. "We know approximately when it started, but we can't say for sure."

He said the online poker community "came together in an unprecedented way" to investigate the allegations because "those concerned could not let it go unchecked."

Wednesday, following a piece about the scandal in The New York Time's Freakonomics blog, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which hosts AbsolutePoker, said it hired an independent investigator to audit the company.

"It is essential that all online gaming and wagering is conducted in a fair and honest manner where customers are protected. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is committed to ensuring fair and honest gaming," commission Chairman David Montour, said in a statement.

Probe Underway

The Quebec provincial police told ABC News they were looking into the matter but could not comment on a pending investigation.

Frank Catania, a former gaming commissioner in New Jersey who helped the Kahnawake Gaming establish its regulations, said under commission rules AbsolutePoker could lose its license and individuals could be turned over to Canadian authorities.

"If anything was done illegally or dishonestly, the company could have their license revoked, the money could be refunded or legal ramifications could happen," he said.

Online poker, Cantania said, falls under a "hazy gray area" of U.S. law. Wire laws, he said, are generally interpreted to cover sports betting and not games of skill.

Most online casino and poker sites, however, are located offshore and are subject only to the regulations in their host nations. Some countries, Cantania said, are better than others.

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