A former World Series of Poker event winner faces federal charges, as prosecutors allege he led a group that defrauded people out of millions by claiming it had inside information that could be used to bet on sporting events.
Authorities arrested Cory Zeidman, 61, in Florida on Wednesday, the same day a federal judge unsealed a two-count indictment by a grand jury in New York.
According to the indictment, Zeidman and an unnamed co-conspirator held leadership positions in an outfit called the “Phoenix Organization.” For more than 16 years, through March 2020, the organization promoted an investment-styled approach to sports betting and advertised its services on the radio.
Those who called the service were told by Zeidman and others that they had privileged information about certain games from individuals like team physicians and television executives. In some cases, callers were told that some games were rigged, with the outcome already assured.
‘Selling Nothing But Lies’
To gain this information, subscribers paid Zeidman and his group fees. Authorities allege Zeidman used several aliases for his scheme, including companies like “Grant Sports International” as part of the scheme.
As alleged, Zeidman defrauded his victims, stole their life savings, and persuaded them to drain their retirement accounts to invest in his bogus sports betting group, all so he could spend it on international vacations, a multi-million dollar residence, and poker tournaments,” stated US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement issued after Zeidman’s arrest.
The grand jury returned charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Mr. Zeidman took advantage of the public’s interest to ‘get in on the ground floor’ of his sports betting organization,” US Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Brubaker said in a statement. “He devised a criminal scheme to fatten his pockets using nothing more than people’s love for sports and his clever words wrapped around a fraud.”
Authorities allege that Zeidman and others bilked people out of at least $25 million.
According to the indictment, Zeidman sent instructions on how to send wire transfer payments to accounts he or others in the organization established. He also told “many victims to mail cash in envelopes” to New York-based addresses.
“As alleged, Zeidman preyed on individuals who were led to believe he had inside information that would lead them to easy money. In reality, he was selling nothing but lies and misinformation— bilking millions from victims along the way, leaving their lives in financial ruin and their bank accounts empty,” Homeland Security Investigations New York Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Patrick Ryder said.
Online court records did not list a lawyer for Zeidman.
WSOP Bracelet Winner
According to The Hendon Mob, a database of poker players, Zeidman has won more than $690,000 in his professional poker playing career. That included three World Poker Tour events earlier this year, all of those in Florida.
The database also shows that Zeidman has played in 17 World Series of Poker events dating back to 1997. In May 2012, he earned a coveted World Series bracelet when he won the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo event. He earned $201,559 for that win.
He has four other top 10 finishes in World Series events.
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