US authorities arrested a man Wednesday for allegedly bilking more than $25 million from victims in a sports betting scheme on supposedly fixed games.
Cory Zeidman was indicted by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
He faces forfeiture of at least $25 million, another $750,000 from bank accounts, and three properties.
Zeidman allegedly advertised sports betting as investing
According to the indictment document, Zeidman and his Phoenix Organization, including at least one other co-conspirator, placed radio ads throughout the US advertising their sports betting services. The ads suggested a “sophisticated white-collar approach to gathering sports information and categorized it as “investing, not high-risk gambling.”
When victims would call the advertised number, though, they were told certain sports events were fixed. Zeidman and co-conspirators claimed they knew the outcome of the events through privileged and inside information given by team doctors and TV executives.
“Victims were required to pay a fee to obtain this information which, unbeknownst to them, was either fictitious or obtained from an internet search by defendant and his co-conspirators. Many victims lost their life savings.”
Since the events were allegedly fixed, the victims were assured their bets would win. The money was wired or shipped to Zeidman between January 2004 and March 2020.
Using sports love against victims
Zeidman used “people’s love for sports” to steal their money, US Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Brubaker said.
Nevada sportsbooks were the main way to legally bet in the US when Zeidman allegedly started in 2004. That is no longer the case, though, with more than 30 states legalizing sports betting since 2018. That includes Zeidman’s old state of New York, which launched mobile NY sportsbooks this year.
Multiple aliases, company names for Florida man
The Department of Homeland Security asks anyone who believes they were a victim to call 1-866-347-2423.
Zeidman had many aliases including Richard Barnes, Ray Palmer and Gordon Howard. Company names include Gordon Howard Global, Ray Palmer Group and Grand Sports International.
Google searches do not return much information on any of the company names. One exception is a WordPress site titled Ray Palmer Is A Scam with two posts from February 2012 calling out Ray Palmer Sports Group:
“They give bad picks after promising to be the best sports betting company in the business. Please dont [sic] fall victim to them. Spread the word to other sports betters [sic]!”
Zeidman allegedly used proceeds for poker
Zeidman allegedly did more than just buy houses and go on international vacations with the funds. He also used the funds in poker tournaments, US Attorney Breon Peace said. That included a World Series of Poker bracelet back in 2012.
“Today’s indictment serves as a reminder to all of us to be wary of so-called investment opportunities that purport to have inside information, as they are really a gamble not worth taking,” Peace added.