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Poker Pro Charged In $31M Debt Collection Scheme

Travell Thomas Allegedly Defrauded Thousands Of Victims

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New York poker pro Travell Thomas has been charged by the feds for allegedly orchestrating a $31 million fraudulent and coercive debt collection scheme, according to a press release from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

The 37-year-old, who has nearly $500,000 in lifetime tournament earnings, is accused of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. More than a dozen others were charged. Thomas was the co-owner and chief executive officer of the company, the feds said.

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement: “As alleged, the defendants engaged in what is believed to be the largest fraudulent debt collection scheme ever to be prosecuted, falsely threatening arrest and prosecution of countless Americans, including those who suffered from disabilities. The defendants charged today allegedly took ruthless advantage of the desperate situation in which their victims found themselves, using threats and lies to coerce payment and even trying to collect more money than the victims ever owed."

The alleged scheme ran between sometime in 2010 and February of this year.

The feds said that roughly $750,000 in cash was paid to Thomas, some of which allegedly went toward gambling expenses, tickets for professional sports games, his wedding reception, jewelry and cosmetic surgery for his wife.

Thomas faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted.

He has 12 cashes on the tournament circuit this year, earning him $91,000.