The curious shuttering of private club-poker site Fox Poker continues to unfold in public view, with the site’s primary administrator, Andy Troumbly, admitting to creating roughly $1.5 million in unbacked chips, then losing them to other players on the site. In a video he posted on YouTube, Troumbly admitted to the fraud, which devalued the other chips in play on the site, led to massive slowdowns for players attempting to cash out their winnings, and ultimately caused the site to collapse. “I f****** degenerate(d) it, you know, fake,” he said in the video. “Fake non-deposited money credited to myself.”
Troumbly’s YouTube video was available for only a day or so over the Labor Day weekend before he deleted it. However, several people quickly archived the video. One public reposting of Troumbly’s video tale is available on the PokerFraudAlert YouTube account.
One of the problems with club-poker sites is the lack of internal checks and controls, especially when the person in charge of the money plays and loses on the site. Troumbly’s explanation is yet another tale of a seemingly addicted gambler getting in way over his head. “At some point I just got like, I got too deep,” he said. “And then I got deeper, because I thought I could get out of the first deepness, so that was bad.”
Troumbly continued, “My credit losses to the big players, it had an effect. It started having an effect on withdrawals, probably in May, I guess. And when all the admins were made aware of it. You know, Chris, Alex, Ben, Barry. You know that the thought at the time was, we can fix it. We can turn it around, blah, blah. Obviously not.”
Troumbly claims additional causes of Fox Poker collapse
Troumbly also claimed not to have been the first admin of the site to play on the site with fake money. He also attributed the May cashout slowdown to a $120,000 “tab” allegedly run up by another Fox Poker admin, Adam Willis, who reportedly left the site in May without paying his debt.
The missing $120,000 was reportedly covered and put back into the site by Alex Shelow, one of the other site owners Troumbly mentioned. A post in a PFA thread on the Fox Poker collapse claims that the other owners/admins include Benjamin Kyle, Chris Audrain, Barry “Boom” (last name uncertain), and Donte Hamilton.
Troumbly’s admission included the claim that the site’s cash shortage “wasn’t unknown by anyone.” However, he failed to address whether the $1.5 million he defrauded from the site’s other players was the true cause of the collapse. Instead, Troumbly said, “The guilts, the blame, was very heavy-handed on me. You know, I am to blame for a lot of things, but not singularly.”
Troumbly also stated that he hoped that Kyle, one of the owners, “would basically bail us out.” That didn’t happen, and instead, as Troumbly stated, he was ordered to shut down the Fox Poker site on Thursday or Friday. Troumbly acknowledged creating an info-gathering form at a related site, 3stacksgaming.com, though as Shelow already noted, the chances of players recovering their funds are very slim.
‘Death threats’ and possible legal action
Fox Poker’s players themselves appear to have little recourse in recovering their funds. Troumbly reported that some of the site’s owners reportedly received threats over the internal fraud. “[I] hope that you know the heat dies down enough to where they’re not getting death threats anymore,” Troumbly said.
While the players might not have a legal avenue to recover, it doesn’t mean Troumbly is free from responsibility for his actions. Troumbly is a Michigan resident, and in posting his video, however briefly, he may have incriminated himself regarding the operation of an illegal online gambling site. Michigan online gambling law calls for up to a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison for operating an unlicensed online site.
There is precedent for state authorities to investigate such a case. In 2015, Nevada authorities raided the Las Vegas apartment of Bryan Micon, one of the reported owners of online Bitcoin-poker site SealsWithClubs. Micon briefly fled to Antigua following the February raid. In May of that year, he was charged by Nevada’s attorney general, Adam Laxalt, with operating an illegal online poker site.
Micon faced a similar penalty, up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. His attorneys, however, negotiated a plea deal where he pled guilty to a misdemeanor and received two years’ probation. The difference between the SWC case and the Fox Poker situation, however, is that there was no fraud involved in the SWC case. Nevada’s investigation grew out of a complaint brought by a disgruntled Belgian player who lost money on SWC.
Troumbly, by comparison, not only admitted to helping run the site, he also admitted to the fraud in creating the unbacked chips. He may have also placed the site’s other admins and owners in a similar legal peril regarding the very much U.S.-based site.
Featured image source: YouTube/PokerFraudAlert