For the past week, the poker world has been immersed in new information about the cheating scandal that rocked UltimateBet and AP in 2007. The new developments began on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, when Travis Makar, a name long associated with the scandal, called into the DonkDown Radio show and gave an impromptu interview to hosts Bryan Micon and Todd Witteles. The allegations put forth in that interview sent shock waves through the poker community and inspired a number of responses from top poker professionals and even current UB.com COO Paul Leggett. We've summarized a CliffNotes review below to catch you up on the situation.
For those unfamiliar with Makar, he is associated with the superuser scandal as being the owner of several accounts that were used in the scheme. His involvement stems from working with UltimateBet and a number of top professionals such as Russ Hamilton and Phil Hellmuth. In the interview with Micon and Witteles, Makar claimed he is in possession of incriminating evidence such as hand histories, e-mails, computers, and data, but is prevented from releasing them because of pending litigation. Nonetheless, Makar suggested that the information available to the public thus far was just the tip of the iceberg.
In one part of the interview, Makar explained: “The problem is that with certain documentation that I have, it falls under federal laws and they are determining whether or not they want to go federal with it and I would then, you know, be liable to testify because I have the evidence. And how I obtained the evidence. So, it’s, it’s…again I can’t get into too much detail. That’s, you know, really between me and my attorney. It’s just I finally got fed up with it. I went to the attorneys, talked to them, showed them what I had. Um, and, again, like I said, these people that are so smart, that were able to do all of this stuff, were just dumb. They left evidence laying all over the place. I mean, there’s people in Costa Rica that were scamming the company. There’s, you know... It just goes on and on and on.”
Much of the interview was filled with irrelevant material or simply Makar and the hosts talking in circles, no doubt because of the spontaneous nature of the conversation, but both Micon and Witteles managed to pull some interesting facts from Makar.
- Freddy Deeb, who some say was involved with the scandal, was not in fact a participant, at least according to Makar: “No. If the worst thing Freddy Deeb probably has done is, probably somebody probably transferred money to his account and asked him to pay somebody. That’s probably… But, again, you’re talking about way back in ’05, ’06 where it was pretty well common practice for somebody to transfer money to another player and say, hey can you do me a favor, can you cash this out and pay so and so.”
- Makar admits he knew of the existence of the superuser program but thought it was used for fraud prevention, and that he did not know it was used to cheat.
- Allegedly, another cheating incident that had thus far went uncovered involving UB employees hacking player accounts, playing under those accounts, and then directly stealing funds from them.
- Makar claims to be in possession of audio recordings, made by Hamilton, that implicate many of UltimateBet’s higher-ups: “Yeah, I have all the actual auditor [recordings]…See, this is, this is a really interesting part here. I guess I can probably go for this. I may get bitched out by my lawyer, but we’ll see. Um, one of the things that Russ had did was Russ had went into a meeting with several people – I’m not going to name who it was – several attorneys as well as several higher ups in the companies. And they proceeded to sit down and talk about how they were going to solve this problem after, uh, 'Brainwashdodo' released a handful of documents . . . they started panicking because originally they weren’t going to release any of this stuff . . . They went into a meeting. Russ decided that he was going to record this meeting to protect himself. Well, again, at that time, I was still dealing with Russ, and I was still working on his computers so he downloaded the recordings that he taped down to his computer. So, I was able to copy those off and listen to them. And they’re, you know, six hour long recordings of their meetings where they’re talking about what they’re doing, how they’re going to do this, who was involved, you know, how to cover this up, how to cover that up.”
The interview then went on to talk about Brainwashdodo, whose real name has been revealed as Zoltan Rozsa, and how he tried to extort money from UltimateBet’s Leggett. Makar claimed that Leggett paid Rozsa $80,000 not to release the information. If that proved true, it would be contrary to Legett’s past declarations that the new UB regime was not involved in a cover up. Before the interview ended, Makar offered to meet Micon and show him some documents to prove the things he was saying were true.
That meeting happened this past Tuesday and inspired Micon to write: "I can now say that I am very confident that he has the 'holy grail' of UB cheating evidence." Indeed, Micon goes on to describe portions of his conversation and evidence shown to him, which happened to include Western Union receipts to Rozsa and an e-mail from Leggett, which was posted online and read:
If you are saying that you are giving up on the extortion and confirming that you will not disclose the information you took from us... I am very happy to hear this. I realize that you do not trust me, and obviously it is impossible for me to trust you. Before you decide to disclose any information, I would just like to reaffirm that if you do release confidential company information, I will be forced to involve the police in this situation. However, I would prefer to exhaust all avenues of negotiation prior to doing this. I realize that money is important to you and the confidentiality of our information is important to us. If you want to meet I would be willing to give you a reasonable amount of money (much smaller than the amount you requested), but I need you convince me that day that you will bring all of the important information, and you will stop with the threats and illegal activities against our company.
Makar had promptly removed the e-mail addresses, but Micon verified he saw them and that the e-mail was dated June 30, 2008. In addition, Makar made it known that the e-mail was just one in a string of correspondence. On Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, Leggett addressed the e-mail in the UB blog:
“There is no doubt that Brainwashdodo did try to extort me. I did arrange to meet him because I did not want him to post our company’s data and I wanted him arrested for trying to blackmail the company. I do remember considering paying him to not release a bunch of information but after a great deal of thought, I decided it was best not to take part in the extortion and we never paid him a dime.”
*To read Leggett’s entire response, visit the UB blog.
Haley Hintze, whose efforts in exposing the superuser scandal are second to none, elaborated on Makar’s allegations and Leggett’s response, while also revealing Brainwashdodo’s true identity as Rozsa, in her poker blog. She also published the full communication transcript between Leggett and Rozsa.
On Wednesday, Brad Booth, who was one of the biggest victims of the cheating scandal, made an appearance on the DonkDown Radio show along with Makar, who was making his second appearance. Booth, who lost a purported $1.5 million, opened up about the circumstances surrounding his victimization and his feelings regarding the purported cover up, both clearly emotional topics for him. Given recent developments, Booth appeared to take a more proactive role in contributing what he could in the hopes of getting to the truth.
Makar proceeded to confirm that Booth had in fact been cheated. When Booth pressed him why he was suddenly coming forward now, what he wanted out of all this, Makar responded that he wanted to clear his name but hasn’t released what he has in full because he wants to ensure he covers himself legally, claiming he would release his evidence if his lawyers advised him to do so. Makar, who claims to have proof of his allegations, went on to reiterate/elaborate on points he had been making all along:
- Various accounts were used to cheat in different capacities.
- There was a cover-up, involving extortion and hush-money, and it was intentional and massive.
- More people were involved than just Russ Hamilton.
- Money refunded was nowhere near the amount stolen.
Clearly the recent developments have reinvigorated interest in the superuser scandal. The stage is set, major players are stepping forward, and we're sure we haven't heard the last on this situation. PokerNews is following everything very closely and will update you with any new developments as they become clear.