Player data is usually protected and treated confidentially
We thought it would be helpful for our players if we explained how your data is protected, and how an online poker room reacts with customers’ privacy in mind when fraudulent activities occur.
First, let’s clarify what constitutes a fraudulent activity in this context.
- Credit card fraud
- Collusion (team play)
- The use of a bot
- Identity theft
- Fake Documents
- Hacked Neteller/Skrill Accounts
All these sound like an excerpt from Criminal Code, but these are crimes of cheating, and money is involved, and the online poker industry must take serious action to protect both their players and their business. Given that online poker is a 24/7, 365 day per year operation that literally never stops, the providers are constantly striving to monitor and police their affairs.
The procedure of online poker rooms can be quite different depending on the type of offence, the damage caused and, of course, from which country the player comes and, in turn, the provider’s (lack of) official situation regarding licenses and legality.
The consequences vary from poker room to poker room, and also depend on the offence
Let’s take the Winning Poker Network (WPN) as an example. Everyone knows that this is an ‘offshore’ company that has no ‘official’ offices and acts illegally in all countries that it has a (virtual) presence. We don’t have to sugarcoat anything here because it’s widely accepted that this is how it operates, and everyone is happy with the set-up if it means being able to play online poker.
But what can WPN – which is based in Costa Rica – do without licenses if a player from Germany commits credit card fraud or forgery of documents? The answer is relatively simple – they can’t do anything. Of course, like other online poker providers, WPN invests considerable resources in protecting itself and its players, and this is just an example of the potential legal implications a site like this has to consider when seeking to provide a service for poker fans outwith a jurisdictional capability.
But what if a similar ‘crime’ were to happen at PokerStars or PartyPoker/Bwin? The answer is quite different, because these providers are highly reputable in terms of the legal resources they’re afforded by having fulfilled the official licensing requirements in the various European countries that they operate. As a consequence, they have legal recourse and the facility to take appropriate action against illegal activities.
To what extent this might happen depends on the offence itself, and the level of damage the offence has caused. If someone uses a poker bot, for example, it is actually a criminal offence, but in such a case no legal action is taken because, while players are negatively affected, the poker room itself isn’t (at least not typically in a way that would justify legal action). Instead, the account of the cheat is closed, their balance kept and those players who were disadvantaged by the bot are compensated accordingly. The matter is resolved internally without having to resort to legal proceedings being undertaken.
Collusion (Team Play) is dealt in the same way as with a bot, with the guilty players’ accounts and credit being blocked and the ‘victims’ compensated. Again, the problem is dealt with in house.
If the poker room is directly damaged, it gets serious…
The situation is similar with forged documents. Of course, this is also a criminal offence, but if there is no damage to the company itself, the player’s account is simply closed. Note that in a where there is uniform regulation, this matter would certainly be reported directly.
It gets interesting, however, with credit card fraud and identity theft. It happens every now and then that someone deposits with a stolen credit card or even creates a fake identity and then uses it to play online poker. It is also not uncommon for a player’s account to be created via a friend or family member without their knowledge, and using their credit card. It might sound somewhat extreme, but such things do happen.
Meanwhile, there are cases where hacked Neteller/Skrill accounts are used to deposit or move around money.
As soon as an online poker room is damaged by a chargeback, for whatever reason, it gets serious because it could quite negatively affect the company. For instance, let’s take a chargeback of €2,000 through a stolen credit card or a hacked account. The bank blocks the transaction and immediately posts the amount back on the grounds that it was a fraudulent, unapproved transaction. This means that the provider is suddenly without the €2,000.
If this problem featured a modest amount of money, then it’s possible to simply book it as a minor loss and take the matter no further. But the greater the hit, the more important it becomes for the provider. Criminal charges are always made for substantial amounts, mostly against unknown persons because incorrect or stolen data is used. The provider then passes on all data, IP addresses and other information regarding the activity of the player account and the transactions. However, this tends to happen only in the event of a serious crime or, depending on the country, if there is uniform regulation where even the smallest offence must be reported to the relevant supervisory authorities.
Of course, the poker room will also try to take legal action to claim for the damage if, for example, a child uses their father’s credit card or a husband uses his wife’s card. In such scenarios the legal situation is not as clear as we might think. The customer might well say to the bank “My credit card was used without my knowledge” and the bank will close the card immediately, filing it as fraud and thus an unauthorized transaction. But, of course, it is not that simple, and if it comes to court, the online poker room is the winner in almost all instances as this is not a typical credit card fraud. In such cases, the cardholder can not only expect to make the repayment of the amount in dispute, but also court and lawyer costs. As a player, you should think carefully about what you do.
The higher the amount and damage to the poker room caused by fraudulent activity, the greater the chance that it will have civil and even criminal consequences for the player. Poker providers are very well aware of the legal resources available to them, and the big names who operate with official licenses in the EU will take the necessary legal action should they deem it in their interest.
Moreover, when it comes to criminal and serious offences in particular, such as hacked accounts, credit card fraud or forgery of documents and so on, the provider anyway must take action so as not to lose their license.