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Poker Player Pleads Guilty In Debt Collection Scheme

Travell Thomas Will Be Sentenced In February

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Poker player Travell Thomas has pleaded guilty to orchestrating a fraudulent debt collection business out of Buffalo, New York, the United States Department of Justice said Tuesday.

The business often coerced victims into paying more than they owed through a variety of threats, the government said. The company, which Thomas served as president and CEO, stole millions of dollars.

“As he admitted today, Travell Thomas ran a massive, fraudulent debt collection scheme through which he and his cohorts stole over $31 million from his vulnerable victims," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

“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. Today’s plea is the eleventh in this landmark consumer fraud case that victimized thousands of people across the country.”

The crimes happened between 2010 and 2015.

The 38-year-old Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release.

He will be sentenced on Feb. 10, 2017.