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Poker Pro Gets 8 Years Behind Bars For $31M Debt Collection Scam

Tags: fraud, Travell Thomas.
Posted on 25 April 2017 by "T".

Travell Thomas, age 38, who has over $500,000 in lifetime poker tournament earnings, was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in federal prison last Thursday, as punishment for orchestrating a fraudulent debt collection business out of Buffalo, New York.

Thomas finally admitted and pleaded guilty at the end of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud. His sentencing was delayed until February.

The final sentence was deemed quite lighter than expected. Initially, he was facing up to 40 years in jail. However, in November last year he pled guilty and agreed to up to 15.5 years.

US District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla stated the punishment's time was the lowest she could go, because she wanted to send a message to those who would think of doing the same crime in the future, "Using abusive and outrageous threats to take advantage of vulnerable Americans, Thomas and his co-conspirators defrauded victims out of $31 million and Thomas made a small fortune for himself," said Joon H. Kim, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, from which the prosecution emanated. "Thomas will now serve a significant term in federal prison."

According to the US government, the company named Four Star Resolution, in which Thomas was the president and CEO, siphoned approximately $31 million from victims between the years 2010 and 2015.

Thomas was also ordered to give back the $31 million, even though the government claimed he only pocketed a small portion of the business' revenue during its lifespan.

Former US Attorney Preet Bharara said last autumn, "Thomas instructed his debt collectors to threaten, intimidate, and lie to their victims by overstating their debts and making false claims about what would happen to if they didn't pay up."

Bharara added that the case is "believed to be the largest fraudulent debt collection scheme ever to be prosecuted." Thomas attorneys claimed that the case was racially motivated.

Bharara, who was kicked out by President Trump earlier this 2017, was the person who went after the world's biggest poker sites in an event called by the poker community as Black Friday.

He was quite renowned in the poker community before becoming infamous from the scam. From 2006 to 2015, Thomas played in various WPT, WSOP and regional poker tournament events. He got three first-place finishes in February 2013 (a relatively small prize money), including winning $30,371 at a WSOP circuit event.

Thomas' final poker tournament cash was back in September 2015, just a few weeks before his indictment.
In a hearing back in November, Thomas broke down in tears and admitted to the court that he deliberately broke the law to steal millions from his victims. Last Thursday, he cried again when he addressed the court prior to his sentencing.



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14 comments on "Poker Pro Gets 8 Years Behind Bars For $31M Debt Collection Scam"

 rv25/04/2017 08:55:21 GMT
good riddance
 Tony_MON7ANA25/04/2017 14:21:10 GMT
White-collar crimes are just as guilty as other violent, horrific crimes.
I actually didn't know Travell Thomas until I read this article. His lifetime poker earnings are not much when compared to other prominent poker professionals...
 Gerimantas25/04/2017 18:24:10 GMT
I don't understand what did he actually do, he has his hands in this steal of 31 million dollars, but no information about what was he doing. 8 years is a lot of time of your life to spend in prison, I wonder if he is thinking oe that he was wrong to do what he did
 pajalnick25/04/2017 19:47:10 GMT
He certainly is a criminal and let him cry even further, but he must be in prison for his crimes ... as I understood from the article, he did not return the money to the victims, citing the fact that he had only a small part of this money? .... I I very much doubt it ... so they say all those who were caught for a crime
 Mober25/04/2017 20:41:59 GMT
The initial jail time seemed too big for a crime like that, but the amount of money was also.
Even if he didnt get much profit out of it, he went down as the ceo for the company.
They usually get most of the blame when something like that happens to a company.
 pothead201226/04/2017 01:34:26 GMT
Sadly he's going to Federal prison so he's not getting Buttbumped allways the same scam people for millions and you get send to play Tennis and shit like that steal some groceries and you'll end up in a place where you wish u had a chastity belt
 pochui26/04/2017 07:45:10 GMT
ah well at least he only got 8 years behind the bars and no in between the bars, or maybe this is actually a typo and he really got 8 years behind the bar? you know collecting the trash and mopping the pavement, also taking care of the overly pissed-on bar corners...
 doubletop77726/04/2017 08:07:39 GMT
This is a particularly nasty scam and i am glad that they were caught and sent to jail. I think he got off very lightly with only eight years and i would have put him behind bars for a lot longer
 damosk26/04/2017 11:06:53 GMT
It's sooooooo sad when someone scamming millions from vulnerable (or even not vulnerable) people, gets caught and convicted of his crimes. Weeping out of pity or out of loss of freedom and liberty? Who cares. You do the crime, you pay the time. I hope everyone enjoys his time in prison.
 Calmplay26/04/2017 11:24:07 GMT
he used to play poker for chips but now he will play poker for cigarettes even if he does not smoke as when poker is your hobby you can't stop yourself from playing the game, bye Thomas and you should be glad that it's only 8 yrs you surely deserved more IMO.
 dule-vu26/04/2017 13:18:13 GMT
when people dont know when to stop and what amount is enough to steal!he couldnt stop and 15,20 millions and then to take that money,go on some other country,caribbean or asia and enjoy in money rest of life!
 bowie198427/04/2017 00:12:29 GMT
Posted by pochui:
you know collecting the trash and mopping the pavement, also taking care of the overly pissed-on bar corners...

8 years 'behind a bar' makes you an alcoholic not a trash collector IMO Big Smile
 Nightkid30/04/2017 19:43:38 GMT
Wee I can not believe that haha those people with that amount of silver that does those things ... but hey I think all, or at least the majority we are like that, that as we win we want to follow and to have every more ...
 RoninHarper30/04/2017 19:51:40 GMT
G'day mates
I hope he never gets out of prison.
A piece of crud like that deserves to get shived on the inside.
I say let the other criminals kill him like a dog.
Humanity will be better off without his type of personage allowed to live.
hmmm maybe I am just angry though

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