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FBI seized PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com, UB.com,... domain names (twoplustwo.com)
880 points by bjonathan on Apr 15, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 384 comments



SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Federal authorities unsealed an indictment Friday against the founders of the three largest internet poker companies operating in the U.S. The indictment charges eleven defendants, including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses, according to Federal authorities in New York. Restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts used by the poker companies and their payment processors, while five Internet domain names used by the companies to host poker games were seized, federal authorities added in a statement. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/doj-indicts-founders-of-top...

Indictment http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/schein...


This needs to be modded up. The ICE mass domain seizures were more blatant violations of due process.

I would also add, if they are going after these poker sites for money laundering, at this point players probably will be unable to deposit or withdraw any money in to their game accounts.

from the indictment: "The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Civil Complaint") against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies."

That means they are taking everything Any asset that any of these defendants has, that is within US government reach will be seized. The domain names were probably the easiest part.

additionally from the indictment: "Defendants BITAR,SCHEINBERG, BURTNICK, TATE, TOM, BECKLEY, RUBIN and LANG are not presently in the United States and have not yet been arrested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to secure the arrest of these defendants and the seizure of criminal proceeds located abroad."

That doesn't sound like a rogue US seizure of some domain names they didn't like (which was the case with the ICE seizures.)


So the government gets to indict you; then sieze your assets; then take you to court (where you cannot afford a lawyer anymore, because they have already seized your assets).

I guess it's nice to be the King.


The hijacked DNS has not propagated everywhere yet. Mine are still working. If anyone has last minute business to do on these sites, such as cashing out before the FBI steals your money, add these to your hosts file:

$ host pokerstars.com

pokerstars.com has address 77.87.179.116

pokerstars.com mail is handled by 20 mx20.pokerstars.com.

$ host absolutepoker.com

absolutepoker.com has address 66.212.244.175

absolutepoker.com mail is handled by 10 mail.absolutepoker.com.

absolutepoker.com mail is handled by 5 mx1.absolutepoker.com.

absolutepoker.com mail is handled by 5 mx2.absolutepoker.com.

$ host fulltiltpoker.com

fulltiltpoker.com has address 91.211.98.20

fulltiltpoker.com mail is handled by 200 mit-mx00.fulltiltpoker.com.

fulltiltpoker.com mail is handled by 100 mx00.fulltiltpoker.com.

$ host ultimatebet.com

ultimatebet.com has address 66.212.244.148

ultimatebet.com mail is handled by 100 mailb.ultimatebet.com.

ultimatebet.com mail is handled by 200 mailc.ultimatebet.com.

ultimatebet.com mail is handled by 10 mail.ultimatebet.com.

$ host ub.com

ub.com has address 66.212.231.205


The FBI press release[1] says that they've shut down all the sites' bank accounts too, so you're unlikely to be able to pull your money out.

I selfishly hope they go after everybody with money on any of those sites, because it might generate more outrage than just the domain name seizures.

[1]: http://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2011/manhattan-u.s...


It's unlikely that these sites had major bank accounts in the US. And it's unlikely that the FBI got $TAXHAVEN to shut down their bank accounts. I wonder what is happening here.


Ouch, but that would be interesting as far as raising awareness went. TBH though, just stopping the millions of people who use those sites from getting their money should create suitable outrage. I mean PokerStars advertise on TV here in f'n New Zealand. They're huge and that is a lot of pissed off people who have suddenly been made aware about the issue.


> The FBI press release[1] says that they've shut down all the sites' bank accounts too, so you're unlikely to be able to pull your money out.

Sure, but we can at least take a screenshot of our accounts for the purposes of a class-action lawsuit later, either against the site or the government, itself.


Against the site? What venue will that take place in?


Cashing out is not working for me...


They process cashouts through intermediaries, essentially laundering the cashout money. This is one of the main crimes they are being charged with. In addition to the domain names, the FBI also seized all of the funds they could that were being used in handling cashouts.


Yep all these big poker players are going to go down for years for the money laundering. The last time I deposited for my brother I noticed they were using a florist as the merchant. There must have been so much credit card fraud that went unreported because they didn't want to attract attention to themselves.

I cashed out using other players as intermediaries and did it myself for other players as well. There was a well established exchange rate and cost in cashing out through other players, so in a way we were also part of the money laundering problem.


Thank you very much. Unfortunately for me, you didn't hit fulltiltpoker in time.


Ah, sorry :( It was working between the time that I checked in my browser and the time I posted. Maybe these will help:

$ host 209.47.206.47

47.206.47.209.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer fulltiltpoker.com.

$ host 209.47.206.46

46.206.47.209.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer fulltiltpoker.com.

$ host 209.47.206.45

45.206.47.209.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer fulltiltpoker.com.

$ host 209.47.206.44

44.206.47.209.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer fulltiltpoker.com.

There are a few related domains that reverse resolve around that netblock. Some spot checking isn't showing a web page for me, although it is connecting to a webserver.


Putting

  209.47.206.47   fulltiltpoker.com
in /etc/hosts, I was able to start up the Full Tilt Poker client and perform a software update. Thanks again! :)


That IP address works for fulltiltpoker, but you need to alias it as "www.fulltiltpoker.com", since the site redirects to that name when you hit it.


It's real and it's happening now.

I have nothing to do with online gambling (anymore), but this just sent shivers down my spine. Who's next?

The US Government has just strengthened the case of those who were concerned about having parts of Internet infrastructure under the control of the US government.

Domain seizures have been happening for a while (i.e. [1]), but this case will probably be the highest profile to date and will hopefully raise public awareness about this disturbing issue.

I won't be surprised to see US based domain registrars to start loosing a lot of their business quite soon.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/us/04bar.html


but this case will probably be the highest profile to date and will hopefully raise public awareness about this disturbing issue

It will but not in the manner you hope, you see they always go after sex, drugs or gambling when they are trying to set precedence. The moral outrage hands them the jury and then they can use the precedence on less morally distasteful targets as case law gets build upon past rulings.


Indeed. I'm quite disgusted by the principle of the thing. Something about being deprived of property without due process of law.

My primary domain is a .net. I'm loathe to part with it since the TLD is a useful descriptor in this case, but now I'm very seriously considering registering and switching over to the .eu equivalent, which is only a couple bucks more per year.


Does the EU not have a similar procedure they could follow? Or do they just not have a history of doing this (yet)?


They likely have jurisdiction only over .eu TLD.

That said, they have implemented mandatory wiretapping on everyone some years ago, so I wouldn't count on EU sanity or benevolence there.


Unfortunately, I highly doubt that this will be seen as disturbing by the main stream.


I'm not so sure, a bunch of my mainstream friends are freaking out about it. They didn't care about the previous seizures, but once you stop people from playing Internet poker at work everyone turns into a civil rights advocate.


That's not necessarily a representative sample - it's only poker players, thus far.


That group is probably bigger than you think. There is a very large population of professional poker players, and those people make their money from a population of everyday players that are least ten times the size of the professional players. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of people whose poker accounts have essentially been frozen.

TL;DR: About $100M-$1B of law-abiding citizens' money is currently in limbo because the government didn't consider the collateral damage of its attack on the big 3 poker sites (for all intents and purposes, UB and AP are the same site).


This is a disaster. A very sad day for the internet. We are entering into pastor Niemoller territory here: first they came for the file-sharing websites, next they came for the online gambling websites, and I would guess that Bitcoin is probably next in line, and following that, Magic: the Gathering online and the MMORPGs.


No. It's not a disaster. Just the end of the .com/.net/.org era. As soon as people realize that .com/.net/.org are not neutral, but under US jurisdication, they will move to other TLDs operated in countries with more liberal laws.


Laws can change. I think it's well time to start thinking about how to organize the internet so that it routes around governments even more easily.


Eh. You don't have to "route around" this currently, just use a DNS resolver outside of the country that re-introduces domains which get taken out by oppressive governments.

Nobody wants to do this, though, as it would destroy the fabric of the internet as we know it or something. But a simpler method would just incur more government push back in an arms race around censorship. Do what the chinese [citizens] do: go covert.


This is actually an interesting idea to me. Forgive me for not being very knowledgeable about the DNS, so if somebody could correct me, I would appreciate it.

What happens if people start selectively paying attention to the ICANN root servers? For instance, my computer is set to use google's DNS. What happens if the DNS admins at google decide that they're going to just ignore the update from ICANN?

And what happens if there is a second-tier DNS that crops up specifically to thwart attempts at messing around with the records? (Honestly, domains being 'seized' should be treated like faulty equipment. If a drive starts bailing out, you replace it. To me, it sounds like the US gov't's ability to modify the DNS at their will is a click-of-death on the DNS)


First of all, let's be clear: the root servers are owned and operated by various entities in countries all around the world. The root zone file is the sole domain of the Department of Commerce of the United States of America. So you'd have to ignore all of them, and i'm not completely sure the US Government wouldn't force Google to apply the one correct root zone file (after all, Google is such a powerhouse you could complain of a monopoly of internet control or influence).

Potential legal issues aside, what you end up with is a New Internet. Of course routes all remain the same, but nobody refers to addresses or routes: they use host names. Thus you run a huge risk of networked applications just not working, which would affect everything from entertainment to commerce to government services and god knows what else (what if medical devices in hospitals needed to retrieve a firmware upgrade and couldn't connect to the right host?).

In practice there would be no technical hurdle to do this. It's simple to just configure your domain name server to include some records, leave out some records and change others. Some people do this if their ISP redirects failed lookups to some advertising-laden homepage, for example. But on a large scale, the modification of the naming system to one's personal tastes has broad-reaching negative consequences related to availability of hosts and the functional and legal consequences therein. On a personal scale (modifying only your own name server results), you get to connect to your poker site again. I prefer the latter solution. If operating systems just started including a simple GUI to modify their personal domain name caches we probably wouldn't need an alternate dns root.


This is precisely the goal of projects like p2p-dns[1] and AlterNIC[2]. It is mostly a chicken-and-egg problem of getting users to resolve non-standard TLDs, so that those non-standard TLDs are registered to things users actually care about, etc, etc.

[1] http://dot-p2p.org/ [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlterNIC


> just use a DNS resolver outside of the country that re-introduces domains which get taken out by oppressive governments.

But outside of which country? You'd have to read the local news for every country in the world that currently has them, every day, if not hourly.


In theory yes. In practice they move to Libya.


Indeed, extensions like .ME and .CO have a bright future, same for domain hacks (except for .US ones).


It hardly matters what the laws are when politicians wipe their asses with the constitution.


Bitcoin is in for it as soon as it gains any reasonable traction. The government is not going to be happy about that at all. Fortunately, btc is a peer-to-peer network and should theoretically be hard to shut down. I doubt it's actually hard to shut down since the client gets its list of peers from the user list in an automatically and transparently joined IRC channel (if I understand correctly). Heh.

I think, however, the domain seizures just emphasize the importance of using a system that doesn't depend on regularly constituted DNS and getting more and more P2P infrastructure in place. I2P should be looked at as particularly promising.


If the Bitcoin client cannot connect to the IRC channel, it uses an in-built list of initial nodes to connect to the P2P network. Shutting down the IRC channel via a court order wouldn't shut down the Bitcoin network.

You could harvest IP addresses from the IRC channel, but you could also do that by running the client and noting down which peers you connect to. Unless you're running behind Tor or I2P, it's not hard to figure out which IP addresses have connected.

However, assuming the government had this list, what would it do? It's hard to bring charges against a large number of individuals scattered throughout different jurisdictions, and historically, the US government hasn't gone after the people using alternative currencies; they'd go after the source.

They could shut down the Bitcoin site - which would be quickly moved to an international domain. They could try and prosecute the lead programmers of the Bitcoin software, but this would not be particularly successful. It wouldn't stop Bitcoin, and I think it would be hard for them to show the currency as being illegal without, for instance, affecting MMO currencies as well.

I figure their best move would be to shut down the currency exchanges, or at least tie them up in court long enough to damage confidence in the Bitcoin economy. However, if the exchanges win, then Bitcoin has an official seal of legality, and a huge heaping of press attention.


This helps some I guess, but I don't think it'd be that hard to take out all or almost all of the hardcoded initialization nodes if they're able to get IRC taken down, too. btc really needs a more robust method to locate peers. IRC with a few hardcoded fallback nodes is not very decentralized imo.


Hardcoded nodes are only needed if that's your first start. After that bitcoin client collects a databases of nodes, listening to "addr" messages from the network. On the next restarts, it uses addresses from that database one by one.

And there are about 300 hardcoded nodes right now from different countries.


I see. That's better I suppose. You just need a relatively easy way to update the seed nodes in case all of the included nodes are down. Does this exist? If not, maybe I'll add it to the client.


There is a dns-seeding (currently two domains which respond with multiple A records, pointing to known good nodes).

I think hardcoded nodes are updated only manually via git.


I don't think, that prosecuting of programmers will be unsuccessful. I won't be surprised, if Gavin's programming will be described as yet another "unique form of domestic terrorism".

Probably original bitcoin author remained anonymous for the fear of government's retaliation.


I meant unsuccessful from the point of view of shutting down Bitcoins. However, I suspect that they'd find it difficult to charge Gavin. The Bitcoin system doesn't use physical coins, so they won't run afoul of the same law that shut down Libery Dollars. There also isn't a lot of difference between Bitcoins and in-game virtual currencies like ISK, or WoW gold. You'd also have rights organisations like the EFF lining up to defend Gavin.


Are you intentionally hyperbolizing, or do you honestly believe that the government will shut down MMORPGs? Further, I'd like to see some arguments to back up your assertion about Bitcoin. I disagree with domain seizures, but gambling sites do seem to be in violation of federal law, while Bitcoin seems to be in the clear, as it is simply a virtual good.


I believe there is an inevitable collision between the government's desire to control, regulate, and tax commerce, and virtual economies. It is hardly a secret that MMORPG items and characters are often bought and sold using real world currency. Players in Magic Online spend real world currency to acquire digital cards, which can then be exchanged for paper cards, and many brick and mortar game stores use this as the source for cards they sell. In theory players could easily use games such as these for money laundering and tax evasion. I don't think the government will shut down MMORPGs, but I believe that government interference and regulation of game economies is inevitable as they grow.

As for Bitcoin, you can research the legal history of various "digital currencies" and you will see that there have already been problems in this area. The purpose of Bitcoin, a decentralized and unregulated anonymous medium of exchange is obviously contradictory to the government's aims. It all boils down to the fact that governments want a monopoly on currencies and want to be able to monitor and tax economic activity. Digital economies are growing rapidly in size and social importance and they are no more likely to be allowed to flourish unregulated than the free sharing of copyrighted media was.


In South Korea under-19s can't sign up for an MMORPG without their parents consent. There was also talk about imposing time limits and shutting down MMO servers during school hours but I haven't heard since I left whether this went into effect.

http://kotaku.com/#!5515459/south-korea-to-impose-overnight-...


I had the opportunity to see Pastor Niemoller's cell once. Out back, behind the building, they had the execution wall.

Your reference to Bitcoin is apt, as the government siezed $7M in gold, silver and platinum from a political organization who was advocating the use of generic silver and gold rounds instead of depreciating paper currency.... and just a few weeks ago succeeded in railroading the leader of that organization.


links please?


For those that are skeptical, check the nameservers:

http://network-tools.com/default.asp?prog=dnsrec&host=po...

http://network-tools.com/default.asp?prog=dnsrec&host=fu...

http://network-tools.com/default.asp?prog=dnsrec&host=ub...

All of the domains point to nameservers at cirfu.net, which appears to be the FBI's Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit (http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Cyber_Initiative_and_Resource_Fu...)

What's more interesting (to me): the domains don't appear to have been using US domain registrars.


Neustar, Verisign, and Afilias operate the actual registry for most of the commercial TLDs (.com, .net, .me, .info, etc), and are all within US jurisdiction. Further, they all hold hefty government contracts.


.me is operated by "doMEn, d.o.o., a Montenegrin joint venture (doing business as .ME Registry), whose partners include Afilias Limited, GoDaddy.com, Inc., and ME-net d.o.o." (http://www.domain.me/about.html), so it seems like it's not under the US jurisdiction.


However the backend is run by Afilias who are subject to US jurisdiction, even though they have their group parent company incorporated in the Republic of Ireland (for tax purposes).


Thanks for information.


The top level domain registrar for .com is in the US, so the US has jurisdiction over it regardless of which retail registrars you use.


what's even more instesting, is that cirfu.net also has this notice up, which is very very strange. Surely they wouldn't take their own site down for gambling offences


and that the ip cirfu.net is currently on is owned by amazon. (from my angle)


    What's more terrifying
FTFY.


HN is not Reddit. Please don't post these.


[deleted]


actually HN has always been self aware in this regard.


Has a bureau of the US federal government just claimed ultimate authority over the internet's domain name system?

If this is the case, then obviously we have a very serious problem on our hands. This threatens the way the internet works at the infrastructure level. Clearly the US needs to be stripped of their root DNS server privileges.


This has been a criticism of ICANN since the very beginning of the internet. This has always been a serious problem, especially since ICANN was setup under the auspices of the Department of Commerce.

And, i'd love to see your alternative proposal for who should run root DNS. Cause the US is nakedly political and partisan, but at least it's nakedly so. :\


I think you'll find that the internet is a few decades older than ICANN.

But in ICANN's defence most people who participate in ICANN (remember it is a self selecting body) aren't happy about all the seizures either. I'm sure the mailing lists are going "full tilt" (pun intended) as we type.


Yes, fair enough, perhaps we can agree on world wide web, or public use of the internet? ;)

And of course, this puts ICANN at risk itself, as it's forced to explain or decry the seizures. The FBI is taking short term actions which will have long term effects. You gotta wonder if they've got lawyers who understand the implications of what they're doing.


Stop hyperventilating, they did nothing of the sort. .com is based in the United States, and (whether or not you agree with the US's stance on online gambling, I don't) they seized an asset that they claim - probably rightly - is within their jurisdiction and is assisting these companies in committing acts that are illegal in the United States.

If they seize a .co.uk, then there's something to be worried about, but as far as I am aware that has not happened.


The line is less clear than you suggest: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/141645-s... (summary: Spanish site links to, but does not mirror, copyrighted material; Spanish courts finally say it's legal; DHS still seizes it).

In the above case, (almost) no crimes were committed by anyone in an area the US has jurisdiction over; fulltiltpoker.com, at least, could be said to be actively recruiting Americans.


  they seized an asset that they claim - probably rightly - is within their jurisdiction
That's circular logic. A .com domain name is only in the US's jurisdiction because they granted themselves this authority and have refused to give it up.


Isn't their image with no alt tag (http://pokerstars.com/banner7.jpg) in violation with Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973? [1]

    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
    
    A Federal law requiring US government electronic and 
    information technology (EIT) to meet accessibility
    requirements
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_508_of_the_Rehabilitati...


You know, I almost wonder if it's intentional. Using an image-based seizure page with a very generic image name prevents search engines from having any content to spider (and thereby prevents people from searching for seized sites).


It is a pretty blatant and unnecessary violation of accessibility standards, a longdesc wouldn't exactly be hard to add at least.


The indictment from the DOJ with a list of the charges:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/schein...


Fascinating. This contains some pretty damning charges, if true.


the UIEGA outlaws 'internet gambling' so the case will be based on if poker is considered gambling, which the supreme court has already found to not be the case when California attempted to pass laws to legalize card rooms back in the 70s

A lot harder to avoid the money laundering charges, but they could argue that they had to process payments in that way because the banks wouldn't accept them because of an unjust UIEGA law


To be fair, most of these charges are probably true.

What I'm not sure is how they can prosecute Canadian citizens living in Ireland or Canada.


Extradition.


Over financial crimes? Does that ever happen?


It does, especially over money laundering.

In this case though it's likely fought pretty strongly since it's possible that what they did weren't offences in their home countries.


Were you not paying attention the other day when the New Zealand govt passed US style copyright laws using "emergency powers"?

Just because you're in NZ, AU, Can, Ireland or $Taxhaven, doesn't mean you're 'safe' from US interference.

The tail does not wag the dog. And it's a bloody big dog.

Arguably the only place safe from gross US interference is the EU, but mainly because as the world's largest government-by-committee they cannot find their arse with both hands and a map. And even then the reality is somewhat different, it isn't hard to play one side off against the other in their internal wrangles.

-----

I would guess most of those places have been leaned on by the US to also ban online gaming.


I don't know how other countries work, but here in Australia the tax revenue on online gambling (and the media influence of certain investors in it - aka James Packer) makes banning pretty unlikely.

Most countries are trying to unify copyright laws (good or bad). There is no international consensus on online gambling, though.


I'm happy to see this featured so highly in hacker news.

As a professional poker player, the biggest concern right now are players balances. I know players with 250k+ bankrolls that are extremely concerned about the status of their money online.

Right now it's entirely unclear the relative size of the seizures.

If anyone has any questions from someone in the midst of this, fire way. I'll be up all night.


Can you explain why someone would leave that much money in there? Are there tables that you can bring 250k to? Do these sites pay interest?

How do you trust these sites? A casino in Las Vegas will get huge fines if one of the employees rips off players. How do you know some internal IT guy isn't cheating you?


> Can you explain why someone would leave that much money in there?

For someone in the US, it can be difficult depositing and withdrawing money. It's often easiest to keep your entire bankroll 'online' (in poker sites such as pokerstars or full tilt) rather than in banks or online wallets (such as moneybookers).

250k could be a standard poker bankroll for a high stakes professional poker player. My bankroll that I keep onlien is 50k USD and i don't consider myself a high-stakes player.

>>> Are there tables that you can bring 250k to?

It's 2.5 buyins for 500/1000 NL. There have been +1 million dollar pots heads up - http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/37/televised-poker/1-1-mil....

Although one doesn't normally sit with their bankroll. However due to the friction (time hassle, exchange rates, withdrawal fees) it is sensible to keep multiple buyins online at one time. I play from 5-10 to 25-50 limit and need 50k online spread across 8+ sites so I have enough to keep in action.

>>> Do these sites pay interest?

No.


I made a longer post below (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2452958) that explains it all a bit better, but for poker players, their balances on poker sites serve both as checking accounts (in many ways) and as their capital. That's like asking why a corporation's value is tied up in its stock. A poker player's account balance is his livelihood.

You can sit at some tables with $100K. It's very easy to 4-table. Moreover, it's very easy to have a 10-buy-in swing. This means that at a bare minimum, a legitimate player has at least 15 buy-ins on any given site, and he damned well better have another 15-25 somewhere else (cash, other sites, etc.) if he doesn't want to risk blowing his entire bankroll (going "busto").

The players with these kinds of balances are part of a very tight-knit community that is largely centered around 2+2. FullTilt and PokerStars both have representatives that post there. It is basically to the poker world what Hacker News is to the tech world. If even one player's money was seized for an undisclosed reason, the major sites (which make money hand-over-fist daily from rake) would lose a lot of faith, and their entire business model centers on their customers' good faith.

There were a few people cheating before on UltimateBet and AbsolutePoker. Thanks to the aforementioned community reconciling various players' hand databases (each hand can be logged), they were caught and both of those sites lost a ton of business.


> There were a few people cheating before on UltimateBet and AbsolutePoker. Thanks to the aforementioned community reconciling various players' hand databases (each hand can be logged), they were caught and both of those sites lost a ton of business.

I also replied to your post below but just to clarify this for everyone: despite he effort from hese communities, those involved in he cheating were never caught. In fact. those named by the DoJ as the heads of Absolute Poker are heavily implicated and the company line has been that ownership had changed hands; this is clearly not the case.

And despite significant pressure, large amounts of money has not been returned to players. And despite Absolute/UB temporarily seeing great loss of traffic, they regained and were up to last night the 3rd largest American-facing network or site.


There are tables where you can play 250k in one hand. Not for me ever but I have a much much smaller balance.

They make more money by being trustworthy than not.

It has happened but it has usually been detected by players noticing unusual patterns in a players actions/win rate.


>> There are tables where you can play 250k in one hand. Not for me ever but I have a much much smaller balance.

To my knowledge the highest stakes spread online are FT NL/PLO games of 500/1k (so buyin is $100k) and 2k/4k limit (you could theoretically buy in for what you like but the largest you could play in a pot would be 24 + 84 = 48k

>>> They make more money by being trustworthy than not. >>> It has happened but it has usually been detected by players noticing unusual patterns in a players actions/win rate.

Not sure what you mean here.


People rebuy. There have been a number of pots over $250K. Not hundreds but you can find somewhat of a list here http://www.pokerlistings.com/market-pulse/biggest-pots

What I meant is the poker rooms have more to lose by getting caught being dishonest than they have to gain by skimming some profits.

There has been a few cases where employees were found to be using exploits to cheat. In these cases its usually players finding unusual patterns in their play and calling them out on it that has lead to them being caught.


Of course, I didn't mean to suggest large pots did not occur. I linked above to a million dollar pot.

> What I meant is the poker rooms have more to lose by getting caught being dishonest than they have to gain by skimming some profits.

I wish it were that easy. A recent example is Microgaming. 20 skins of that network (a network still going today with sites like ladbrokes, 32bet are part of) went down, and took with it 5 million dollars of deposits. Players weren't refunded; microgaming did not honour those deposits.

>>> There has been a few cases where employees were found to be using exploits to cheat. In these cases its usually players finding unusual patterns in their play and calling them out on it that has lead to them being caught.

In the UltimateBet cheating scandal, it is assumed the vast majority of funds stolen from players was not returned. No one involved was caught. A man strongly connected with the cheating at UB was one of the 12 named by the DoJ as an owner of UB/AP.


> To my knowledge the highest stakes spread online are FT NL/PLO games of 500/1k (so buyin is $100k)

Aren't there deep-stacked high buy-in games now? Besides, I actually have a screen shot where I sat at a .25/.50 table ($50 buyin) long enough to get it up to $500, or 10 buyins. Surely it's possible for two players to sit at 500/1K and get the balance up over 250K. I'd even dare to say that in a reasonably-long headsup match, it would be very likely.


It's been tough overnight getting the facts as they come out, many poker sites have been going down due to the strain, lots of news outlets are behind.

Along with a journalist friend we put up http://pokerfuse.com and will be updating it as news breaks. Hope it's okay to link here (my weekend project!).


Do you have a large proportion of your wealth at stake here? Do you use many sites or just one or two?


>>> Do you have a large proportion of your wealth at stake here?

Approximately 30-50%.

>>> Do you use many sites or just one or two?

Personally I have money on 9-10 different networks/sites. FT and pokerstars were the biggest 2. I kept about 50% of my bankroll on star as I trust them the most.

Because I don't reside in the US I have a much wider selection of sites on offer. However I know many, in both the US and Europe, who play on exlusively one site, often due to loyalty (sites offer favourable terms if you put a lot of play on one site)


Someone came up with a Firefox add-on to automatically use alternate domain names when one tries to access one seized by the US Government:

http://torrentfreak.com/firefox-add-on-undoes-u-s-government...

I'm reminded of the John Gilmore quote, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."


John Gilmore was talking about Usenet, where that was actually true; if some intermediate netnews server started deleting articles that contained bad words, people using other news servers wouldn't even notice unless they got their only newsfeed from the censoring site. (Later on, this became a problem, as it was impossible to censor spam as well.)

The internet is not like Usenet in that way. Its design is full of central points of failure: root nameservers, TLD nameservers, DNS registries, BGP, and AS and IP allocation, among others. Some newer network protocols like BitTorrent are indeed capable of routing around censorship and other forms of damage, but older ones like the Web are not.

I've written a bit about some thoughts on how to fix that, but I still haven't done much: http://lists.canonical.org/pipermail/kragen-tol/2006-Novembe...


The quote is still quite valid when applied to the culture of the Internet, however. People create tools ranging the gamut from Tor to MafiaaFire to circumvent and prevent censorship from occurring, even with systems that are anything like robust.


I for one am incredibly glad!

Nothing is a more serious menace to our society and our way of life than ... online gambling. I'm glad that in this time of unprecedented natural disasters, geopolitical unrest, and financial crisis our government still has its priorities straight.


I guess you are for alcohol prohibition too?


Seems like you missed the "/sarcasm" comment, unless I'm being leveled?


/sarcasm

Looks like you might need it.


Wow this is huge.

I used to play online poker for a living, I had a decent chunk of cash locked up for almost a year when they came down on online poker previously (UIGEA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAFE_Port_Act#Internet_gambling...

It's worth noting that these are NOT American companies. It doesn't look like anyone (players) has had their assests seized; but this is bad news for a lot of people.

It also appears people are still playing.


> I had a decent chunk of cash locked up for almost a year

This isn't a judgement, but a real attempt to understand: why would you lock up a significant amount of money someplace like that?


Professional poker players can only safely risk 5% or less of their bankroll at any one time (due to luck factors -- there are many ups and downs), players typically keep their bankroll as large as possible so that they can play as high-stakes as possible. The higher your stakes, the higher your hourly rate.

Where do you keep your cash? If your business deals in dollars and cents, you probably keep it in a bank account. Your clients pay you, making its way into your account, and you pay bills out of that account.

Poker players do all their business with their poker accounts. Rakeback sites deposit directly into the accounts, player transfers are often used to facilitate real-world transactions between friends, and things like concierge service can even be provided by the poker sites themselves.

For a poker player, their online accounts are both their cash and their capital. There's really no way around having a large amount of money tied up on these sites if you're a high stakes player.

And it's not irrational. These sites make so much money in rake every day that it would never make sense for them to run off with everyone's money. At least not until the government steps in, seizes their cash, and threatens their business model when it's not even clear that the act of hosting poker games is against the law.


This was (and still is) common practice for online poker pros. I have some friends who play for a living and I did while in school...

Keeping money online or in a "Neteller" account was a good way to keep a bankroll outside your regular "spending money."

Most professional (or serious) players keep a bankroll as a running tally of gains/losses and for tax purposes (yes, it's true).


Well in the pre-uigea days Neteller was the company winning th transfer market.. very similar to paypal except you could use them for poker sites.

When the UIGEA passed, neteller had all it's assests frozen.

This is common practice though.. poker players will have a huge chunk of their networth on poker sites. Keeping money online just made sense, that's where you would use it to make more money.

So I didn't get it locked up from a poker site itself (as far as I know no one lost money that way), but from the payment processor. Everyone got their money back, it was just a long time.

I had a couple months worth of living expenses (I was small time).. but others had dozens to hundreds of 1000's locked up.


> neteller had all it's assests frozen.

... making it just as vulnerable as virtually anything, right? So...

And until they exchange it, it's in a currency that's only recognized by a single "bank" - the Poker site - so in my mind (and this might just be me being insane) it's not really real.

If I can't buy a sandwich or a beer with it, it doesn't feel like real cash.


The real issue here is the seizure of domain names. US citizens who gamble online know full well that they're breaking the law and are subject to lose assets.

The domain seizures are very troubling, though.

Edit: There seems to be some dispute over where it's a crime to "participate" in different US states, but for the purposes of the "customer assests seized", the transaction is illegal, so it's to be expected that the "cash is locked up" as the result of government action.


You do understand that gambling online isn't illegal in the United States, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UIGEA

UIGEA "prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law." but does not make it a crime for a citizen to engage in the activity.


It is illegal in a handful of states.

http://www.gambling-law-us.com/State-Law-Summary/

You are right though, the UIGEA makes it illegal to transfer money from a US citizens account to an 'illegal gambling operation.' It doesn't actually define what an illegal gambling operation is.


I think technically gambling online is illegal in the US but it's covered by the wire act and not UIGEA.

I'm not 100% sure as it's been a while since I've kept up with this but I believe that Poker has always been in a sort of gray area. I think there is suppose to be a distinction between games of chance and games of skill. In the past only online sports books or true online casinos had ever been prosecuted in the US.


Correction - it is illegal for them to participate in the activity of gambling - it is not illegal for them to participate in the activity of playing poker, for fun.


Except for horse racing.


Um, no, US citizens don't know that.

If they did, smart professional players like Durrr and Ivey wouldn't keep multi-million dollar bankrolls online that are subject to loss at any time.

That's just common sense.


they are red pro , they will be fine, the real risk is for middle/high stakes grinders who dont have the same relationship with the big sites and as OP said risk to have their money freeze for some time (a US player is already reporting on 2+2 that he cant withdraw his money from FT)


Are you saying that even US citizens who live outside the US are breaking US law if they gamble online?


Um, what? Can you cite the law they "know" to be breaking?


While I'm not at all surprised to see this happening, I'm still astonished that the USA continues to try to stamp out gambling through legislation. I remember growing up being astonished at the number of references on USA TV shows to illegal gambling; I've never once come across it in the UK.

I love cricket, but there's been a persistent series of match-fixing and spot-fixing allegations for years, almost exclusively originating from illegal south Asian (primarily Indian) bookmakers. The legal markets haven't been the source of this sort of problem at all.

Much as I might not like gambling, there is a persistent human desire for it and the evidence seems to be that banning it, as so often, exacerbates rather than minimises harm. The US government should stop trying to hold back the tide on this.


The casino lobby would prefer that online gambling didn't exist. Therefore, since these online companies are not in the US and have no lobbyist money in play, they have no standing.

Voter preference, individual rights, domain name sanctity, jurisdiction, shortsightedness with regard to keeping control of TLD's, futility of the fight, all have no bearing when uncontested lobby money wants something, and doubly so when states think it will mean more tax dollars in their pockets.


Actually the company I (a minion stuck in the cogs) work for is a government run lottery that set up a division called Digital Interactive Gaming just to design and build online a gambling website.


It's not quite true that these companies have no lobbying presence in the USA. The Poker Players Alliance operates out of Washington DC and represents all of the companies indicted today.


PPA aside, what's interesting is that PokerStars just announced a partnership with the Wynn recently. I don't know that it's the US brick and mortar casinos that are behind this.


The US doesn't so much try to stamp out gambling as to regulate/profit from it. I suspect the dim view of online gambling stems from the fear that they cannot control it effectively.


Okay. This makes me want to indulge in youthful indignation.

If I saw this and was at a company like OpenDNS, I'd start considering saying "No. Sorry. We're going reverting back to the last good record." The federal government might have technical jurisdiction, and U.S. customers might technically be violating U.S. laws but the ability of the federal government to seize internet properties terrifies me because it might set a national and international precedent. (Other countries already do this, but U.S. doing it kinda makes it globally sanctioned.) I'm terrified of a slippery slope, even though I usually find slippery slope arguments dubious. (Plus, I just think this is a dumb seizure to begin with...)

(End of youthful indignation.)


I just had the same though except substitue OpenDNS with Google. OpenDNS would be better for users but this feels like a Google-y thing to do especially after the whole China debacle.


Someone maintain a zone record (or hosts file) for all seized domains and make it public via P2P? Just an idea.. ;)


This is actually perfect. Filesharing sites don't register on the average user radar.

Online gambling sites? Joe Schmoe's everywhere are about to get seriously angry.

It's sad it came to this but maybe it takes something as overreaching as this to get the attention of people.


US government has been gunning for poker sites for a while (since 2006 when the UIGEA passed). Some places like Party Poker withdrew from the US market, while others flourished by skirting the rules to the best of their abilities (e.g. can't have ads for internet gambling on TV, so let's make a play money site fulltilt.net that will eventually funnel traffic to our real cash games).

I am however surprised that they're seizing domains as I figured this would remain one of those "live and let live" legislations, like the online gambling equivalent of brown-bagging your drink. I imagine this will not end well for whoever was involved in this decision.

Also, 2+2ers sup bro.


There was so much hope that poker would be granted legal status about a year ago, but congress does tend to get sidetracked.

Nice to see other 2+2ers on HN.


It's kinda cool to see a link to 2+2 at the top of HN, sucks that it has to be for this though...


;)


Probably related to this - former online gambling lynchpin turns cooperating witness.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/web-kings-life-on-the-lin...


This is another case of government manufacturing criminals.

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers."

- Ayn Rand


As what happened with the guys run the porn redirector under the Libya domain, if you're using a domain/registrar which is regulated under laws which make your website illegal then you're just asking for trouble.

It's just basic common sense: Use domains/registrars which fall under the legal authority of a country in which your website is legal.


I think that up until now .com was considered to be a "neutral" domain, with individual domain names falling under the jursidication of the country where the registrar is located. However, in this case at least for ub.com the registrar is located outside the US, so this implies that the US has jurisdication over all .com domains.

If I'd was a non-US company using a .com domain I think now is the time where I'd switch to another TLD.


The MAFIAAFire Firefox plugin will redirect seized domain names to alternate domains. It's already working with all of the domains listed in the article. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/mafiaafire-re... Of course, it depends on how much you trust the maintainers of the plugin not to do something nefarious :)


If the press release is true, these guys are going away for a long time. They allegedly bribed the owner of a US bank with cash and allegedly purchased 30% of the bank in exchange for the bank allowing them to circumvent US money laundering and anti-gambling laws.

There's a lot of civil liberty discussion in this thread, but I think this is actually a fascinating story about the linkage points between the internet and the real world -- in the real world, these guys needed bank processing. To get it, they went way, way over the line, as did the Bank owner.


Over the line? Why did they have to bribe a bank to accept their business? That's crazy! The liberty to conduct everyday business is the most important liberty we have. It's what puts bread on the table.

The fact that they had to bribe a bank to open and use an account is really really sick.


It's not over the line; they wanted to do a business that's illegal in the states, so they (allegedly) committed crimes. If they had wanted they could have banned US players, and only accepted money from players in other countries. They didn't want to do that.

I'm presuming most of the main people here don't live in the states, they are no doubt implementing their own personal Plan B's right now, and have already landed in their chosen spots.

The US citizens living in the US are in the most trouble, I'd guess.


they wanted to do a business that's illegal in the states, so they (allegedly) committed crimes.

It's funny, but you do realize the government defines what is and what is not a crime? I only hope for your sake the government doesn't make your industry illegal. Otherwise you may have to bribe others to earn a living.

It's unfortunate that many don't realize this is just the beginning. There is a multitude of other industries which are on the "edge" and trust me, if this goes well for the government (3 billion profit) they will come after everyone else with full force!


Online gambling is illegal in the United States. It is, by _definition_, not "everyday business."


And that's part of the problem.


I don't disagree that it should be legal, but the fact that the government takes a dim view of bribing bank officials to allow someone to do other illegal things is really not something worth getting indignant about, no? The root cause, sure, but painting it as "everyday business" is rather naively lolbertarian.


You can't fix a problem by slashing at the symptoms. I don't disagree, but it shouldn't have come this far.


Crazy. DC government just passed a bill allowing the city to offer online gambling. Will the FBI also sieze dclottery.com?


DEA raids California medical marijuana stores that are legal according to state law, so ... yeah, if they want to, they will.


Does DC plan to use the site for money laundering?


"Australian internet whiz Daniel Tzvetkoff, who has become a prized FBI informant in a bid to avoid a 75 year jail sentence in the US, may have brought down the multi-billion dollar American online poker industry.

The three poker sites - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker - have been shut down."

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/f...


It's worth noting that most gambling sites warn their employees against travelling to the US. The US has in the past arrested employees of foreign firms for actions which are entirely legal in their home country but illegal in the US.

And it's not just gambling sites, in 2001 Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested on a similar basis.


To be quite frank, as a foreign national I'd be a lot more worried about visting the US than I would Cuba.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement for the land of the free, is it?


Viewing Google cache, I noticed ub.com about us page:

All financial transactions are processed by Hoop & Javelin Holdings Ltd., Vincenti Buildings, Suite 522, 14/19 Strait Street, VLT1432 Valletta, Malta, owner of this website.

Can the FBI seize the domain because it's a .com TLD? Or, because transactions were occurring in the States?


Up until now for all of those seizures that I've checked the registrar has always been located in the US. In such a case I understand that the domain name falls under US laws.

However, in this case it is a little bit unclear: The "ub.com" domain itself has been registered with an UK based registrar, but the nameservers point to a US company (UltraDNS). Still, from the evidence available it seems that the US directly tampered with the data at the registry (VeriSign):

* According to the UK registrar's WHOIS information the responsible nameserver for the domain is at UltraDNS.

* UltraDNS seems to return the 'correct' results.

* When asking the .com nameservers for the ub.com nameservers, they return two nameservers at cirfu.net.

* cirfu.net leads to the web page with the seizure information.

So yes, it seems that the FBI can indeed size any .com domain, even though it has been registered with a registrar outside of the US. If I'd be a company not based in the US now would be the time where I'd think about migrating to another TLD - I guess for online gamling sites even .ly domains would be a better bet than .com.


The retail registrar is irrelevant. Many of the generic TLDs are owned and managed by US companies, so the US government at least believes they have jurisdiction. And since a company like Verisign isn't going to piss off the US government, they'll gladly hand over domains when asked.


it's happening quite often that big poker sites have some of their funds confiscated. Usually they dont communicate about it and just change the payment provider they use to collect US money.


They can (in the "they have the capability to" sense of can) because it's a US-controlled TLD. They've being doing seizures like this for about a year with smaller fry.

They don't a care a bit if a site is entirely foreign-owned and entirely legal in the country of ownership.


They shouldn't be able to seize them at all. No transactions were occurring in the US, which (at least by the poker sites' arguments) makes them legal businesses.


The DHS (and now FBI) believes that all .com domain names are "located in the USA". It is not hard to get a judge (generally they are pretty ignorant of technology) to go along with this. Therefore, even if the registrar and the company are overseas, the FBI is able to sieze the domains.

Since I doubt the US government will start respecting international law (and ICAAN is international agreements, to which the US government has agreed) the only solution to this will be a viable alternative DNS system.

This is a serious threat to any startup... even though you're not engaged in gambling, they are constantly expanding the "crimes" they will use to sieze domains.


No, it's not that the DOJ believes that all .com domains are US. It is because Verisign has the contract to run .com, and Verisign is a US company. An US court can force an US company to comply.


I wonder long before they're shutting down foreign .com sites for the 'crime' of infringing US patents.

Having only a .com for a business feels a lot like having all your eggs in one basket now.


WHOA, that's really big news for the poker industry. These are all very large, very big businesses (talking billions of dollars) in the US. Can anyone confirm if their poker clients are still functioning properly?


I don't know about the client, but I imagine fulltiltpoker.co.uk will work just fine for the foreseeable future. There is no force in this universe that will keep the British from gambling... and if there is, they already have bets on it.


At the moment it redirects to the .com — I can see them changing that in a hurry.


Pokerstars client does not use dns at startup at all. It uses one of the ips you can see in trace.ini. (not sure how it obtains those ones however) Wouldn't expect other clients to be worse. They're going to be ok.


Weren't they all banned in the US a few years ago? Illegal even for banks to process transactions to them.


Even if that's true, they're not illegal from, say, Ireland. Yet Irish citizens can't get to the site because the FBI took it.

The US gets to seize assets anywhere in the world if they have some connection to an alleged US crime?


A number of sites completely withdrew from the US (Party, Pacific, etc), either out of fear or because of their particular company's corporate setups / locations.

A few big ones remained operational for US players, the biggest being Stars and FullTilt, with the only change being refusal to accept credit cards as a deposit method. I'd venture to say millions of bank deposits have occurred since then within the US, and the legality of it all was never black and white, and certainly not enforced in any way.


Not technically. Technically, they were not allowed to process PAYMENTS in the US, so most of the poker site operators moved their payment processing internationally. If you made a deposit or a withdrawal to one of these services, you would be charged an international transaction fee. It's a gray legal area for sure, but one which they've operated in for many years without much trouble.


Yeah, I remember having troubles with Moneybookers payment processing and Joker.com registrar payments, because my bank (which was Chase Fricking Manhattan and thus should know better) assumed that they must be gambling sites.


America sucks more every day.



It seems that it's stuff like this that could be the biggest driver in validating non .com domain names.

I could see a Benelux registrar organization setting up a quality .tld that was free from seizure over stupid shit.

There are still other minor routing problems that can occur, but with proxies and DNS, that is much much more of a whack-a-mole problem than high level domain name seizure.


I don't know why but this issue really irks me. The hypocrisy on this is off the charts. Gambling is legal in our country - the WTO has made that legal judgment (http://www.ibet.pro/2007/08/25/us-government-ignores-wto-rul...). Our actions are an attempt to preserve a protection racket for U.S. gambling operations and it's just wrong. Not only that but the strategy of seizing domain names, arresting execs, will never solve this problem. This shit pisses me off - I'm sorry.



pokerstars.net only offers a play money client; it is not a gambling site by any stretch of the imagination. .jp and .de are not under US jurisdiction.


So yeah, about that distributed DNS idea...


CNBC Twitter: Three Largest Internet Poker Companies Charged With Fraud, Illegal Gambling - Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, & Absolute Poker - Charged


MarketWatch says it's bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/doj-indicts-founders-of-top...


Note to self: all future domains I buy won't have a .com extension.


I'm using .is from now on. Sure, it's more expensive, but there are no fucking "domainers" there – even two letter domains are still available. And I have a hard time thinking of something Iceland would shut down (except for child pornography, obviously).


I tried to register a two-letter domain with few registrars found by googling: it seems that one isn't allowed to register a two-letter .is domain anymore; a very common policy in domain names.


That seems odd. I just registered one a few days ago… (fj.is).

Also you can register domains directly at isnic.


! You are correct, isnic allows to register two-letter domains :) It is probably better to register there anyway than with some random registrars.


http://www.whatsmydns.net/#A/fulltiltpoker.com

Shows the propagation is underway.


Beautiful:

   <HTML>
     <TITLE>WARNING</TITLE>
     <IMG SRC="banner7.jpg">
   </HTML>
I'm surprised they don't have text and audio for ADA compliance.


Maybe the W3C can seize the page for non-compliance.


I was really hoping there was a banner{1-6}.jpg


those are probably for child porn, drugs etc.


for a site the don't want anyone to see? ;)

But perhaps you're right and the FBI can be sued for non-compliance.


If they really didn't want anyone to see it, they would likely have just replaced it with a blank page.

The banner image that's there is meant to send a warning. It would have taken considerably less effort for them to put a blank message, or serve a 404 page than what I'm sure involved a committee of at least 4 people and 2 ranking executives to craft, create, get approval for, and implement the banner image that is currently in place.


Yes, because if Richard Stallman was wget'ing his daily webpages, he would have a lot of trouble interpreting that site without going into xwindows.


"Yes, because if Richard Stallman was wget'ing his daily webpages, he would have a lot of trouble interpreting that site without going into xwindows."

Your indifference to the Blind is touching. But at least you got your off-topic troll in.



when this happened a while back for wikipedia and filesharing sites i wrote a script that lets you add, update, dump, and share entries in your local hosts file (you can even put the text on a website and pull it from a url). it's not really much use since the sites will be moving anyway if no-one else can contact them, but in case someone finds it useful - https://github.com/ghettonet/GhettoNet


Did anyone happen to cache the IP address for fulltiltpoker.com? I'd like to add it to /etc/hosts so that I can at least connect to the client and get a screenshot of my balance.


91.211.98.20; it's posted abovethread.


That is the already-seized alias IP address. Go ahead and browse to it.


No, that's the actual IP address, but you have to browse it as "www.fulltiltpoker.com", otherwise it redirects you to there.


Coming soon...

PokerStars.cz FullTiltPoker.ly


Online gambling is legal almost everywhere - how does the FBI have the ability to do this?


They are using a TLD (top level domain name) operated by a US company (Verizon).

The government hasn't gone out of it's jurisdiction, technically speaking.


Verisign, not Verizon.


Autocorrect on iOS, sorry.


Clearly the FBI has the ability to do this... they just did.

Now, do they have the right to do this? Of course not, but not having the right to do something has never stopped the FBI before.

Remember, this is an organization that was created explicitly for the purpose of out-Mafia-ing the Mafia.


They are accused of a conspiracy of intentionally fraudulent financial transactions.

From the press release:

... arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls


Not in the US, and these are US domain names.


The event was big and changed a lot... but not for pokerstars or other services.

The client can use ips to auto-update with new domain names probably (it's got a pool of addresses to try). In a few days enough new links will be created to pokerstars.net that it will be reasonably visible on google. Service itself will buy loads of domains and start advertising as pokerstars.{your_tld}. In the meantime, pokerstars.net is still available as usual.


This will only get worse, and the US has no issue with doing this with International sites. Remember rojadirecta.org? It's a Spanish site, owned and operated in Spain, that fought for 3 years a legal battle, and won. Then the DOJ just came and in one day seized the domain. No appeal, no warning, their whole legal battle for nothing. They have been offline ever since. The Internet is at the complete mercy of the guys in ICE.


Here's what the domain names look like, for those of us who's DNS hasn't propagated yet.

http://50.17.223.71/


If anyone hasn't figured it out yet, the Internet Police have come and they're starting the crackdown. So people who have been relying on the non-enforcement of certain laws, even the dumb ones, are going to get some nasty surprises soon. Or at least, that's how it looks to me.

They've killed several botnets and lots of other sites, too, if anyone has noticed.


In case anyone thinks this is about deterring online gambling, Washington DC (the municipality, not the Federal government) has recently legalized online gambling as a type of lottery.

[ http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_ONLINE_GAMBLING_DC]


How exactly am I supposed to live in a system like this? I understand I can't have a perfect legal system, but the amount of effort required to challenge these ridiculous seizures seems very difficult. There are so many unconstitutional laws that need to be fixed. We need a second supreme court.


Oh great another 9 headed beast.


I was under the impression that Howard Lederer and possibly several other "celebrity" poker players had ownership interests in Full Tilt Poker so I'm surprised I don't see any familiar names listed as defendants in the indictment


You know, these "asset forfeiture" laws will never change as long as it's the 'little people' who are getting reamed.

The day the government grabs the assets of a few rich people, you can bet your ass these laws will change in a hurry.


It takes just one man to rile the public. What we need is widespread and incendiary oratory; governments operate only with the consent of the governed. Inaction, in this case, is effectively consent.


PokerStars is back - http://pokerstars.eu

This is the message I get when I log in: http://i.imgur.com/PfUl4.png


Wow, I don't know why this surprises me so much - although I know plenty of people that play poker "illegally". A quote simply because I personally feel it's ridiculous.

I also recall the difference between the poker related .com and .net sites. So fulltiltpoker.net is still up as is pokerstars.net - that, if I recall correctly, was because the .net website was aimed a playing poker with "fake money" while the .coms were all aimed at playing poker with "real money"


Pretty strong charges:

* Violation of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act [5 years prison]

* Operation of Illegal Gambling Business [5 years prison]

* Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud [30 years prison]

* Money Laundering Conspiracy [20 years prison]

And for all of them fines double the gross gain or loss: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/schein...


So far the US is only cracking down on domains in the .COM TLD. Do you guys think the US will eventually crack down on non-US-owned TLDs that are operated by US entities, such as .CO (operated by NeuStar)? And after that, perhaps a doomsday scenario, will they eventually force US-hosted DNS caches to expunge records that are related to criminal activity as, in a way, they are aiding and abetting..


Another interesting thing to note is that most of these are not US companies (I doubt any of them are, my guess would be a US based registrar)


An interesting article about Sunfirst Bank, and a previous brush with money-laundering problems:

http://blogs.reuters.com/financial-regulatory-forum/2011/01/...


They're resolving to normal web sites for me in California. It takes six hours for DNS servers to resolve? I checked whois and it looks perfectly normal. Also, you can ping the domains to get the URL, e.g., http://77.87.179.116 Is this story true?


    Winners don't conduct illegal gambling operations.

    -- William S. Sessions, Director of the FBI


And yet so many people are urging this same government to craft new "net neutrality" laws. Bewildering.


Well, net neutrality is to protect us from corporations. Protecting us from the government is something the government won't do.


The sites mentioned still resolves for me but if this is actually true... I am at a loss of words



This domain seizure nonsense is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/383473/white_house_r...


I'm located in Hungary.

Pokerstars.com works, Fulltiltpoker.com works, UB.com gives me an FBI page.


Same from Canada. Also, would seizing the domain name actually stop the clients from working? I would imagine that the devs, seeing the rash of increasingly ridiculous seizures, would have pushed an update to the client that bypasses DNS. That's what I would have done, anyway.


ub.com and pokerstars.com both resolve to their original servers (77.87.179.116 & 66.212.231.205) using either Google's DNS servers (8.8.8.8) or Level3's (4.2.2.1, 4.2.2.2)


all work in northern ireland


Odd, they're all resolving for me. I wonder if that's USA only? I'm in Canada


Probably just hasn't propagated yet.



Web app to report how much money is frozen in your poker account: http://socialsensornetwork.com/online-poker


Two ineresting side notes:

pokerstars.net is still up

pokerstars.co.uk gives a 404 error, after redirecting to pokerstars.com/uk

seems like sloppy webmastership from the FBI.


The domain, http://www.pokerstars.net/, is still up


They all show for me apart from absolutepoker.com but that could be DNS related


I have the FBI message currently for UB.COM and Absolutepoker.com so yes I think it's DNS related.

edit: confirm for PS and FTP also, you can check with that webproxy: http://www.fasterthree.info/index.php


The entire attack on online poker, and poker in general, is funded, supported and encouraged by that completely immoral mix of human misery and animal cruelty known as the racing industry.

The sooner horse racing ends up where it belongs, alongside dogfighting and bear-baiting, the better.


Meta: This is probably the most upvoted HN post I've seen.


The worst part: look at the HTML they replaced it with!


So no season II of 2 Months 2 Million?


Well, there goes Full Tilt Capital...


seems to open fine in california


Reagan is the one who signed "asset forfeiture" into law. I remember at the time reading newspaper articles claiming this was "just going to be used to keep drugs off the streets" and how "law enforcement are outgunned and now can defend themselves against drug dealers".

It was obvious to me then that this was a violation of due process. Also, it is not authorized by the constitution, and thus every act of seizure under it is criminal act. (There is a federal law that makes it a felony to violate constitutional rights under color of law. Fourth amendment prohibits this.)

Notably, Bush the First, Clinton, Bush the Second and Obama have not made any moves to undo this legislation.

Meanwhile, this has been used to take money from bikers on their way to buy a motorcycle, and random motorists in Florida and Texas who get pulled over for speeding. "It could be drug money" says the "law enforcement officers" who take life savings and then spend it on themselves.

Just because they haven't seized your assets yet, doesn't mean you aren't at risk.

When the government can take whatever it wants, without any legal restraint, and in violation of the ultimate law of the land, that government is not a legitimate government.

We should be outraged. We should be throwing the bums out-- from Obama down to the local state congresspeople or local sheriffs and judges who fail to take actions overturning this, or who themselves participate in this. It does not matter what party they are from, they are all culpable, and they are all criminals.

Edited: I removed the reference to my property that was stolen by the FBI because it prompted many people to attack me below. I really would rather the discussion be about how to resolve this issue for domain names, or maybe some discussion about how to overturn these seizure laws.

Edited: I've made the legal case in defense of those wrongfully convicted. I cannot keep up with the tide of people who have no citations of the law, but are quick to disparage me personally, for my crime of defending victims here.

Frankly, I think that the ease with which people assume that "naturally" these people were "bad guys" and therefore what they did was "illegal" despite the law and the constitution, is the very proof of my central point that the government is out of control, and they are getting away with it because people can't be bothered to challenge the belief-- taught by government in government schools-- that the "rule of law" holds sway.


This post really highlights the needs for collapsible threads. I'd be very interested in discussing more about asset forfeiture at large, but it's ridiculous to have to wade through all the Liberty Dollar bullshit in order to do that.



Very nice, that helps a lot.

Still, though, this feature really should be part of HN proper, especially since it's so simple to implement. I think a lot more attention would hit posts that aren't already at the top, which would encourage people to write new posts instead of responding to whatever happens to be above the fold.

It's not going to fix the comment quality problems, but it would give a bump in the direction of wider, shallower comment trees, which will probably help a bit (deeply nested comments tend to either meander off topic or degenerate into arguments between a couple of people).


Thank you so much sir. That is my #1 issue with HN


Simple. IT IS ILLEGAL to play at Pokerstars or FullTilt or any of the typical places from anywhere in the USA. The US Gov cracked down on them.

I quote: "Here is an EXCELLENT alternative where it is COMPLETELY LEGAL for USA players to play and win lots of real money and prizes, and never lose any money."

You may want to consider http://www.clubwpt.com/?cmpgn_id=6242&bnr_id=110 As stated at FTC: "Use Club WPT Bonus Code PLAYFREE, No deposit needed. No Risk Play System. COMPLETELY LEGAL! " With the above link I provided, you cannot lose money, and only win money. No limit on how much you can win, but maximum you can lose is something like $0.49 per day (yes, I said 49 cents), which is what your full membership daily cost would be.

So, as you can see, or the point being, there is another model out there.


Ahh? what is my comment doing here?


Are you referring to the Liberty Dollar? I remember being very interested in this (and in alternative currencies) a few years back but was put off by a video promoted on their official website which showed someone successfully passing a Liberty Dollar at a drive-through to an employee who asked, "what's this?", and was told that it was "a new dollar coin."

At that point, they had unclean hands in my mind. The basis for an alternative currency should be consent, not confusion.


You're misremembering. The primary educational effort of the Liberty Dollar focused on, whenever someone asked what it was, or you offered it, making clear that it wasn't US currency. Nobody associated with the Liberty Dollar in any official capacity would call it "a new dollar coin" and as the word "coin" is one of the magic ones that denotes government money. They might say "its 20 dollars in silver" or "a silver piece". And if asked if it was "real" or "genuine" they were told to say "It is not government money, its better" or "its genuine silver, but it is not made by the US government".

They were very careful because passing it off as if it were government money would be a crime. Despite not doing this, they have been lied about to the point that even you are misremembering.

There are many reasons to decide to not be involved with the liberty dollar-- not the least of which is the indoctrination that "money" must come from the government, something I had to overcome myself. But the claim that they were pretending it was government money is not one of them.

The entire point of NORFED-- the National Organization for the Repeal of the FEDeral reserve-- was that government money was not as good as silver rounds.


Even "it's 20 dollars in silver" is iffy. To most, dollar means USD, and there's no constant dollars-silver ratio any more.

This is the video that I was misremembering (works in newest VLC): http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20050206004912/http://www.l...

via: http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20050206004912/http://www.l...


I always thought they should have used the phrase "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price" (M.S.R.P). But I would actually favor striking the word "dollar" altogether. People can just use ordinary silver pieces bearing the mark "One Troy Ounce", which describes its physical mass only.


Alas, the wayback machine won't let me see the video, but even the name of it is bad since it contains the word "coin".

Most may assume that "dollar" means USD, but that is not the legal meaning. Dollar is a generic term, as Canadians use it, for instance. But further, if I were to say "20 USD in Silver" I'd be referring to the US dollar and I'd be naming a price for this amount of silver. This is no different than saying "$5 in coffee beans".

Edit to add: My real point is to disagree with the idea that the liberty dollar advocated (generally) passing it off as US government money, as they spent a great deal of effort trying to prevent that perception or anyone associated with the organization doing so.

I'll concede that you saw a video where someone didn't make it explicit enough that it wasn't government money and that put you off of the idea... and in fact your quote might even be exact. In which case you are not misremembering.

My point isn't really to debate the video, so much as the intent of the organization.


I also agree with your take on Asset Forfeiture. In any case, I wasn't being snarky when I said "misremembered". I had, in fact, misremembered parts of the video, though the sense of recipients not being fully in on it remains.


Hear, hear. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men. We have allowed our government to create a separate ruling class that is above the law. Any honest reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will admit that the government was meant to be more restricted than the people.


Constitutional law is so much more complicated than, "this is what the document says". What is happening is here is reprehensible, but I don't think you will find any defense against it in due process.


> Constitutional law is so much more complicated than, "this is what the document says".

If you can't read the document and deduce it's meaning, why use this document? Is this an emperors clothe type of thing?


If you actually read the document, you would see that the document includes provisions for a court system under the very correct assumption that some people would read the document and come to different conclusions about just what the document means.

Ever played a board game and had people disagreed on what the rules said. If you play games of any complexity, it happens all the time. Life is considerably more difficult than any game.


If you actually read the document, you would see that the document includes provisions for a court system under the very correct assumption that some people would read the document and come to different conclusions about just what the document means.

The document does have a court system, but if you read it closely you'll realize that nowhere in it does it say that the courts have the ability to rule on the constitutionality of anyone else's actions, nor does it say what the courts can do if the constitution is violated. That was a power that the courts themselves decided that they had. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marbury_v._Madison for details.


Yes, but that decision was grounded in the courts' enumerated powers and strangely nobody has seen fit to overturn it by amendment despite having a whole 2 centuries in which to do so.


So if you realize you made a mistake 2 centuries ago it's absolutely too late to fix it?


There was no mistake, in my view.


if the Monopoly instructions read "if any questions arise, ask the Banker, his word is final", I would not play that game.


That's more or less what the rules for any Pen&Paper RPG and lots of different sports (e.g. soccer) say.


Case in point: when I was younger and played soccer, we had one ref who before the game would go over rules with us. Invariably, he'd ask us what offsides was. A younger kid would always give him the book answer for the league: being ahead of the ball with less than two defenders between you and the goal (goalie counts as one). He'd quickly then say "no! offsides is this." and point to his whistle. The point was very clear... He had the final call on what was offsides, so there was no use complaining if we had a different opinion.

He was actually a quite fair ref.


Yep, as anyone who watched the World Cup learned: see the phantom foul (no one even knows who it was allegedly on) that took away the US victory over Slovenia, or the referee denying a game-tying goal by England against Germany that the whole stadium got to see on replay, to which FIFA's response was to ban replay from the rest of the World Cup.

It's not good in sports and it's far worse in government.


Because the world is a complicated place where a single (short) document is unlikely to fairly represent anything other than guiding principles. Having guiding principles is hugely important and valuable, just as giving people the leeway to make judgement calls on those principles is. Justice shouldn't be black and white.


If constitutionality can't be deduced by the constitution, then what deduces it? The opinion of some judges?

If our fate is in the hands of a few judges (it is), doesn't this void our "democratic principles"?

I can't help but feel our understanding of government isn't much more than catch phrases and sentiment. Patriotism, we the people, one nation under god, the greater good, public servants, all total bs. If we criticized the processes of government like we did start-ups (such as the costs of value added), we'd be a whole lot wealthier. /rant


Your rant is misguided and childish. The law is dynamic because it must be applied in areas where no prior written text has a straightforward conclusion.

A simple example is wiretapping laws. Because of historical stare decisis interpretations of the Constitution, it is ruled a violation of the 4th Amendment for the government to wiretap a citizen without a court order. Nowhere in the Constitution is this protection written -- it required the application of the spirit of the document to the 20th century by the Supreme Court.

Fortunately, we don't need to bicker about this because you seem to hold the Constitution as the preeminent law of the land. Since the Constitution is correct by definition (according to you) and it gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction over its interpretation, the Supreme Court is also correct by definition.


> you seem to hold the Constitution as the preeminent law of the land

To the contrary, my point is this document is ambiguous and subject to interpretation. So, who interprets it? The judges of course! The very people this document is supposed to protect me from. Seems a bit circular. Fast forward to year 2012, and judges say it's OK to seize domain names. How can the constitution defend my right to free speech and also defend the government's right to seize domains?


Fast forward to year 2012, and judges say it's OK to seize domain names.

Then it's Constitutional by definition. Congress, however, can pass a law amending the Constitution to prohibit the seizure of domain names. Then it's no longer Constitutional. Do they not teach the three branches of government or checks and balances in middle school anymore?


Congress cannot amend the constitution as easily as it can pass a law. The States have to agree to it as well.


Yeah. It's the Constitution. It's supposed to be hard to change.


yes, who watches the watchers?


Ever heard of separation of powers? Three branches of government?


Remind me, who was declaring war reserved for?


"and it gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction over its interpretation"

[citation needed]


"The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."


Right. Where's the bit about determining the constitutionality of laws? It's not spelled out


Just read Marbury v. Madison. I have no more time for a 5th grade civics lesson.


You should have revisited the situation after fifth grade. Fifth grade teachers like to simplify things. Marbury introduced judicial review. It's not in the constitution.


Good thing I never mentioned judicial review, right? Appellate reviews satisfies my statement just fine. Also, while judicial review did become reinforced after Marbury v. Madison, you'll note that the power was derived from an interpretation of the Constitution, not the court itself. That the Constitution implies judicial review is in purview of SCOTUS is a long-accepted interpretation of the Constitution.


The idea that the courts have jurisdiction over the interpretation of the constitution (as opposed to, say, each branch being independently obligated to adhere to the constitution) is judicial review, not appellate review.


You called him misguided and childish. You lose the argument.


I don't think anyone denies that there are areas where the constitution is not sufficiently detailed. However, the constitution still says what it says, and many actions that are considered "legal" today do not fall into the areas of constitutional vagueness, but are simply laws that violate the constitution that have never been sufficiently challenged.

The constitution is pretty black and white, and this is a good thing, because it means you can tell what is set out by it, and what is up to the legislature.

All the areas where the constitution enumerated powers it gave the legislature a free hand to determine what is right.

Thus for the areas that the constitution does address, it is pretty black and white and it is meant to be enforced by the people.

... and it really isn't hard to understand, nor does it require much interpretation. Just careful reading.


If you can't read the document and deduce it's meaning, why use this document? Is this an emperors clothe type of thing?

Why teach the illiterate to read? What good are words if people need teachers to explain them?


Actually, the document was written with the intention that anyone could read it and easily tell if their government was violating it or not. There have been a lot of people making up a body of work commonly called "Constitutional law" but much of that body of work seems to serve the purpose of trying to say that you can't just read it.

But if you read it, it is very clear.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It is cut and dry. All of these siezures are not taking evidence, they are stealing property.

Money is property, it is not evidence of any crime, especially when it is electronic funds in a bank account.


>"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This doesn't mean what you think it means.

It doesn't mean that the government can't take your stuff, full stop. It means that the government can't take your stuff without due cause and process.

Both of which were followed in this case, it appears. The indictment was posted here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2451482


Constitutional studies largely exist because of the 14th Amendment and the necessary and proper clause. They do confuse things a bit.

Sometimes we can't rely on our elected officials, even though we should be able to; a SCotUS case might be the best way to change this.


This is actually increasingly common, and in some states the burden of proof is on you to prove that anything confiscated was not purchased with money obtained illegally. In addition, many states allow 100% of the profit from what is confiscated to go directly to police departments. One department where I used to live has both a police Hummer and a Tank. You can read about a state by state study at:

http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/other_pubs/assetforfeitu... [Note: PDF]


While I find this ridiculous, it's quite different from the Liberty Dollar case which you mentioned losing $20 in. In the US it is clearly illegal to begin running your own currency and has been for a long time. The fact that NotHaus went as far as putting the word Dollar on it was just the icing on the cake.


What about these?

Disney Dollars: http://www.disneydollars.net/

BerkShares: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jul2007/sb20070...

Buy Local—With Town Currency Dollar alternatives, such as BerkShares in Massachusetts, are shoring up local economies by keeping money in the community

Microsoft Points: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Live/MicrosoftPoints

Pittsboro Plenty: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/9/north_carolina_town_pri...


As linked in another reply, the law deals with coins "of gold or silver or other metal".


Visa is a currency. So are travellers checks and regular old checking checks and coupons. All of these are also denominated in dollars. If you were to take some time and study the actual laws, and also check out the legal opinions, from members of boards of federal reserve branches, as well as the secret service and lawyers that were obtained before the Liberty Dollar project was started you'd recognize just how absurd this case is.

But most people do not do the research. Most people assume that only the government can "make money" and most people fall for the idea that putting the word "dollar" on something somehow makes it counterfeit. It is this ignorance that lets them get away with such crimes.

I'm not trying to call you ignorant (as a pejorative). I'm just trying to say that I read the relevant laws, including the ones cited in the case against NotHaus et. al. and they do not prohibit what the Liberty Dollar was actually doing. Not at all.

In fact, the only thing illegal would be to make exact copies of US currency and pass them off as real. That is counterfeiting.

I can make a currency out of coffee beans or silver and try to get people to trade in it... and there's nothing illegal about it.

It is also known as barter.


I lived in Las Vegas in the 70's when the Secret Service stepped in and shut down the process of people paying for things with Casino Chips.

For those not familiar with them, a Casino Chip has a current denomination ($1, $5, $25, etc) and the name of the Casino on it. For a long time Casinos, as service to their customers, didn't care if you played with another Casino's chips so you could just carry them around from place to place and play them. At the end of the day the Casinos would settle accounts and exchange chips and cash to make it all come out even. It was a great convenience and while occasionally people would try to counterfeit chips, at that time if you were caught doing that you literally disappeared. Of course businesses near the Casinos, 7-11, restaurants, etc, started accepting chips in lieu of cash since they could just walk next door and exchange them for cash. It was a kind of fun and "just one of those things."

And then the secret service came and said "Under the constitution only the US Government can make a currency, stop accepting chips or go to jail." And they did a few stings and there were some high profile wrist slaps (I don't think anyone actually went to jail) and the whole thing stopped.

Had the Liberty Dollar folks read that bit of history they would have seen where their enterprise was headed.

Relinquishing the right to create a currency was one of the pre-requisites to ratifying the Constitution [1] which took that power for the Federal government and removed it from the states and the citizenry.

[1] http://www.jstor.org/pss/2124065


This doesn't make any sense to me... is bartering illegal? Where does one draw the line between bartering with chips and paying with chips?


No bartering is not illegal. Neither is buying, selling, and trading collectible Barbies. What is considered to be illegal (and I'm not a lawyer so I can't say definitively if it is or isn't) is creating an instrument, which represents a value (possibly fixed), and engaging in commerce using the instruments in lieu of the actual thing.

So trading a Malibu Barbie for a Space Barbie, or perhaps a Barbie Dream Home would not be a 'currency' transaction, giving someone a Malibu Barbie to pay for a lunch that was nominally $25 and having the person who got that Barbie then take it and buy $25 worth of groceries, and having the grocer be able to deposit it in their bank account and get credited with $25. That would be treating it like a currency.

There is a wonderful discussion on currency and what it is in the course Economics [1] offered by "The Great Courses". There is a wonderful story about an island which trades ownership interest in large rocks on another island as their currency. If you commute to work I highly recommend these courses as a way to pass the time and learn something (or at least get something to think about) while doing it. Don't be afraid of the price they regularly put things on sale for lots off. And if you have a library nearby you can sometimes check them out.

[1] http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.asp...

update: I remember that one of the key things about the test of whether something was a currency or not, is if it could be exchanged back into another currency. Its one of the things various "points", "miles", and other systems avoid is an explicit path to turn them back into cash. Sure you can buy a $50 VISA gift card and sell it to someone for $50 but its not like you can go to the bank and turn it back into $50.


Planet Money had a segment about the rocks-as-currency island:.

Segment: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/02/15/131934618/the-isla...

Entire podcast (also discusses the currency test, IIRC): http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/02/15/131963928/the-frid...

Very interesting.


The Barbie example doesn't really make much sense. I could just as easily say I'm trading Malibu Barbie which is nominally worth $25 for a Space Barbie which is nominally worth the same, and run afowl of currency laws. Or that I'm trading Space Barbie for lunch with no mention of nominal worth and call it barter.

The test you propose about conversion is at least logically consistent, but it's not what I see applied. For example, Berkshares (local currency in the Berkshires) can be traded for USD but they don't run afowl of currency laws.


Depends on the intentions... are you a farmer bartering your crops for another farmers meat; or are you knowingly circumventing laws.

This is similar to the way Pachinko parlors work in Japan and Taiwan - you collect a ball from the machine when you win, and with a certain amount of balls you can receive various token prizes. This prize can then be redeemed around the corner at a different location for cash. Cash was exchanged - there were just middlemen involved - but it still comes down to gambling.

If you are intending to replace currency with something else not produced by the government, then you are not bartering, you are introducing private currency and that is illegal.


There is no law prohibiting private currency.

Disney Dollars: http://www.disneydollars.net/ BerkShares: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jul2007/sb20070.... Buy Local—With Town Currency Dollar alternatives, such as BerkShares in Massachusetts, are shoring up local economies by keeping money in the community Microsoft Points: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Live/MicrosoftPoints Pittsboro Plenty: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/9/north_carolina_town_pri....


Nika, none of the issuers you mention will convert back into dollars. Its a one way street. Presumably they have set up agreements with people who will accept them an they have pre-negotiated a discount rate. Its like chucky cheese tokens, you can't turn them back into quarters so that you can play more video games.


Actually, now that you mention it...

According to recent California law, "a gift certificate with a cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash (not a new certificate or merchandise) for its cash value."

Disney dollars are generally available only in denominations of $10 or less, so they may actually be an incredibly-inconvenient cash equivalent in California.


According to the 'reference site' [1]

"Disney Dollars DO NOT expire. The oldest bill from 1987 can still be used today. As they are worth real money. They also may be exchanged back for the U.S. Dollars or purchased using the same.

They may used to pay for anything that can be normally paid for with cash including the following locations: (only Disney locations)"

They are exactly like casino chips, which is to say that within the Disney properties they can be used equivalently to cash, and even converted back into cash.

Given the Las Vegas experience however, I suspect that people in and around Orlando or other Disney locations, who aren't associated with Disney, should not accept them in lieu of cash.

One of the parallels to remember, the Secret Service wasn't going after the casinos for their chips, they were going after people who accepted them as cash even though they had no business relationship with the casino.

[1] http://disneydollars.net/where_can_disney_dollars_be_used.ht...


What about bitcoins? I thought you could convert those back to dollars.


Good question. Early on when I was trying to create a milli-cent currency for subscription buying of content from a website we wondered if we offered a refund for our digital cash tokens if we'd get in trouble for it.

As it turned out the Digi-cash folks had all the patents and were being real dicks about licensing so we never got to test the question.

I can absolutely predict that if you can buy several hundred thousand dollars worth of bitcoins from person X, and then go to persons P, Q, R, ... Z and redeeem them back for cash, that the authorities will shut down that sort of thing quite quickly.


"I can absolutely predict that if you can buy several hundred thousand dollars worth of bitcoins from person X, and then go to persons P, Q, R, ... Z and redeeem them back for cash, that the authorities will shut down that sort of thing quite quickly."

It's already been done:

http://i.imgur.com/PUMtG.jpg

That's 400k BTC (about $400k) being sent to a number of different accounts.


Good luck cashing that out without crashing the market. Somebody pointed out, just a few days ago, that a $10k sell-off recently scrubbed 25% off BCN/USD. A 400,000BCN sell-off would almost certainly drop it to pennies.


I suspect that anyone confident enough in the Bitcoin economy to invest that amount of money is not looking to cash out quickly. They may be gambling that Bitcoin becomes a commonly-used internet currency, in which case they stand to gain a lot of money in the long term.

edit: Ah, I see your point. You said "redeem back to cash". Yes, that probably wouldn't work in an economy only worth a few million :)


Actually yes, you can convert BerkShares back to USD. http://www.berkshares.org/whatareberkshares.htm


You are right - as long as the nomination is exchangeable for U.S. currency and all transactions are taxed accordingly.

But on the note of the parent:

> Where does one draw the line between bartering with chips and paying with chips?

It's not bartering when you are trying to get around things intentionally.


I like how you just assert-- sans any evidence or argument-- that they are trying to "get around things intentionally". You don't even say what things.

Don't bother, I don't care. I'm just amazed at the BS this topic has elicited from people, and I am done defending these guys.

All the BS is just proof of why the country is going to hell- why the FBI was able to steal $7M in gold, silver and platinum and get away with it.

It is because you, and the rest of the ignorant government "educated" americans can't be bothered to think critically.


Do you need a hug? Seems like you are a little stressed by this thread.

According to the documents posted, the poker sites in question are attempting to get around the legalities of U.S. citizens placing monetary wagers or bets on international gambling sites. This would be an intentional circumvention of the law.

The example I posted in regards to Pachinko parlors circumventing their local laws by allowing people to trade in fake token prizes for cash is an example of people circumventing their local law.

There is nothing wrong with bartering or the barter system - and it is perfectly legal in it's intended use, but it can be used to circumvent other laws and would be illegal based on the legal definition of intent. As for the government stealing assets illegally - yeah that's wrong. Confiscation of these .com's bothers me a great deal - but that wasn't the topic I was replying to.

I am not an "ignorant government "educated" american" - and while my self education in legal matters may very well be off at times, I am able to think critically and be reasonable in what I do and don't know.

The problem is, that you are unable to have a conversation with someone that may be right or wrong on a topic - and it might not always be right that you can convince someone of the true nature of matters even if you are right. That doesn't mean you can act like an asshole - which you are. You don't know me, and because of one statement you are more than willing to blame everything you conceive as wrong on someone like "me". Get off your pedestal and learn to have a civil conversation - it's an awesome trait to have.


This isn't really the best site for the "Wake up, sheeple!" thing.


You come off like a completely arrogant know it all, regardless of the validity of your claims, the responses you're getting are largely from your own comment's original tone, not the subject, in my opinion of course.


I won't attempt to argue that the Liberty Dollar wasn't a misguided enterprise. Even when the law is on your side, the fact that the government controls the courts assures that you'll never get a fair trial.

You're misunderstanding the constitution and what the "right to create currency" means. There are many currencies in circulation, and there have been many state and even private currencies over the years. Even today there are localities that make their own currencies- such as the Ithica Hour http://www.ithacahours.com/

What the constitution reserves to the federal government is merely the power to determine how many grains of silver are contained in a given dollar.

Thus, actually, the current paper US dollar, which is not denominated in silver, is illegal, it is counterfeit!

Thus it is clear that tradition has long ago seperated from the law. But this is relatively recent. In 1930s it was that the government made ownership of gold illegal and switched from silver certificates to unbacked dollars, but even then the dollar was backed internationally with gold, until Nixon closed the Gold window in the 1970s and defaulted the US government.

An excellent book on the history of Money in the USA, is "The Creature from Jekyll Island" by G. Edward Griffin.


"You're misunderstanding the constitution and what the 'right to create currency' means."

You may be correct, I have noticed a strong correlation however between how the government behaves with respect to alternative currencies and my understanding of the legalities of same. And while I also recognize that correlation is not causation, I find this sort of correlation useful in predicting whether or not my future actions would be viewed as "sanctioned" or "not sanctioned" by law enforcement authorities.


Right, but the point of this discussion is indicating the abuses the government perpetrates on the people, not the practicality of running an alternative enterprise if you don't want your life destroyed. Everyone knows that doing something like Liberty Dollar is greatly frowned upon, and that the feds will dispose of that as quickly as they can. Some people choose to do it anyway for the effect. You can think of it as a protest, I guess.


And while I also recognize that correlation is not causation, I find this sort of correlation useful in predicting whether or not my future actions would be viewed as "sanctioned" or "not sanctioned" by law enforcement authorities.

It's certainly true that behaving as the government wants you to results in less hassle, but we should be clear that "not sanctioned by law enforcement authorities" is absolutely not the same as "illegal" in the U.S.


I listened to a lecture by the author of "The Creature from Jekyll Island" where he made some outrageous claims about the ownership of the Fed. I was trading US Govt. bond futures at the time and we went to some pains to understand the federal reserve system and to say he erred in fact is being generous. It was full of slavering nonsense, often with anti semetic overtones.

As a side point paper money is obviously extremely vulnerable if abused (see Zimbabwe) however the idea that your money supply should be dictated by mining is beyond primitive. Periods of rapid economic expansion will lead to deflation unless the state controls mining and has sufficient mineral reserves which then becomes the same thing as printing money.


What kind of outrageous claims? (Just curious)

To me what is shocking is that most people thing the Federal Reserve (which is probably the most powerful institution in the country) is part of the government and not privately owned.

I work for a very large bank and most employees here think you're crazy if you tell them the Fed is a private bank.


I haven't read "The Creature from Jekyll Island," but I have seen some good citations. It's probably better taken as an exposition of the motives of private central banking than an argument for a gold standard. The complication in US history comes from a private central banking cartel (the Federal Reserve) using the departure from a gold standard to their own profit. Through this (naive) lens, returning to a gold standard would help to keep monetary tricks in check.

Any modern currency reform should instead concentrate on public banking with a Fiat currency. This combination allows for controlled market expansion, with the everyday banking profits being distributed across the commonwealth. It should be noted that this would have no affect on the profits of investment banking, and would not require any substantial change to our current US Dollar economy.


Can you cite some specific claims where the lecture was wrong?


What the Constitution allows and disallows is a matter of the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution at the time. You have yet to make an argument that the federal government's seizure contradicts the established jurisprudence on this topic.


Visa is a currency. So are travellers checks and regular old checking checks and coupons

If you were to take some time to study the laws--or high school economics--or the cardholder agreement you sign when you apply for a Visa card--you'd know this is incorrect.

I bet you have "research" that tells you that credit cards are currency or something, contrary to very basic legal and economic interpretations of the word. One of the signs you're dealing with a nut is that the knowledge he thinks he has allows him to accept or reject facts as he so chooses.


Could you elaborate on this for me? It sounds like what they're saying makes perfect sense (btw, there is really no need for the --or high school economics-- jab).

Visa is an abstraction of my money. A better example would be american express gift cards. I can buy american express gift cards, and I can trade these gift cards or goods or services. The gift cards have a non-static real-value that is tied to the United States dollar (it's value in GBP, for instance, will fluctuate based on currency values).

I can take $100 USD, give it to a third party to hold, then slowly spend it as I see fit (effectively).

How is doing this with gold something that they should have covered in "high school economics class"? (No high school I've ever seen or heard of teaches an economics course, by the way)

I take $100, and give it to somebody who gives me an abstraction of that $100, gold.

To me, this sounds like literally the exact same thing as a gift card, just shinier.


Currency refers to physical money. A gift card isn't "money" because it's only a medium of exchange at a few specific places. Credit cards aren't currency because they are simply pointers to a line of credit, which isn't physical money.

The Liberty Dollar guy was found guilty of imitating U.S. currency. The OP believes the application of the law is unjust because, mentally, he's equivocated currency with other numismatic instruments. But this is wrong.

The high school economics jab is to call attention to the OP's lack of knowledge in something he thinks he knows a lot about. My high school did teach economics.


I believe it is you who is wrong. Wikipedia's first sentence on 'currency' is this:

In economics, currency refers to physical objects generally accepted as a medium of exchange.

I don't claim to have the requisite knowledge on the argument at hand, so I won't speak to that, but it appears that the assertions you're arguing as fact are incorrect.


Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, in what courtroom does a 1-sentence wikipedia definition of "currency" followed by some blogger exposition constitute what is and is not creating an alternative currency?

This is simple -- you're not allowed to compete with the US gov't when it comes to providing the currency of the land. There are a lot of good reasons for this, and some mediocre reasons to oppose it, but at the end of the day it's pretty clear that there's a difference between Liberty Dollars and casino chips.


"This is simple -- you're not allowed to compete with the US gov't when it comes to providing the currency of the land. There are a lot of good reasons for this, and some mediocre reasons to oppose it,"

I agree. Competition usually hurts the market. . .

There are several examples of competing currencies being used to revitalize economies. One example is the "Miracle at Wörgl." While this system implemented by Silvio Gesell had many problems that I will not address. It did bring the communities who adopted the scrip as currency out of depression.


I agree that there's a different between Liberty Dollars and casino chips, but I've also been known to keep casino chips as souvenirs as well, so I guess they're similar in that regard.

I personally equate the Liberty Dollars to comic books or baseball cards, in that they're collectible items. Being silver, they should appreciate over time, but I would not confuse them with currency myself. I can see how others might make that mistake, but I don't see it as a fault of the company any more than I would accuse the folks who Chuck-E-Cheese of counterfeiting by creating 'game tokens'.


Well, fault of the company is in the beholder I suppose, but they named it "Dollar" and explicitly marketed it (as in paid for advertisements that say this) as an alternative currency pandering to the Ron Paul crowd. It's not like they're being accused by an idiot who mistakes Chuck-E-Cheese tokens for real currency.


But when you pay with a credit card, you're not exchanging the card itself for goods or services. You're asking a third party to pay (in real US currency) for the goods and services, and promising to the third party that you will reimburse them.


What the heck? That's exactly the same as what I said.

Money is an object or record that serves as a medium of exchange.


Pardon? I believe that's a little revisionist, as you stated, and what I was specifically referring to is "Currency refers to physical money."

You then list all the ways in which other forms of currency aren't currency, which is the point I disagree with. While I agree that a credit card isn't necessarily mapped to a tangible dollar figure, and that yes, it does refer to a line of credit, I disagree that it isn't considered currency on those grounds. Does a debit card more appropriately fit your definition, or is it disqualified because the actual dollars are elsewhere?

Regardless, I think all the relevant points have been made, and further quibbling on the point isn't likely to benefit anybody in particular, so I'll bow out.


You don't exchange your debit card during the transaction.

It's perfectly legal to map USD > token and exhange that token. It's legal to create a token that you will map back to cash. It's not ok to accept other peoples tokens that does not represent actual money that exists.

Travelers checks are an example of the first kind of token. Poker chips are an example of the second kind of token.

You can accept a Travelers check from someone else. But you can't operate a business that accepts Poker chip's from someone else.


http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/currency

1. something that is used as a medium of exchange; money. 2.general acceptance; prevalence; vogue. 3. a time or period during which something is widely accepted and circulated. 4. the fact or quality of being widely accepted and circulated from person to person. 5. circulation, as of coin.

Currrency can refer to physical money. But it also refers to gift cards, visa cards, and any thing else that is, quoting the first definition, a "medium of exchange". Since you called a gift card a "medium of exchange" while saying it wasn't "currency" the dictionary proves you wrong.

Your understanding of my mental state and argument is also wrong, and I think you're projecting.

Since you apparently aren't familiar with the dictionary definition, I trust you will apologize for your assertions about my lack of knowledge.


If you looked at the actual laws the liberty dollar is cited as allegedly violating - http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/514.html and http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/486.html - you'll find it's quite specific about what is a problem; the former law makes illegal attempts to fraudulently pass off your currency a official US currency, and the latter makes it illegal to mint _metallic coins_ for use as current money. Gift cards/visa cards etc aren't easily mistaken for official US currency, and they're not metallic coins, nor is the physical object exchanged as money would be. So, they're not related to the liberty dollar case.


I appreciate your response, and agree that there's a gray area, but I am now more seriously wondering where parking tokens fall into this mix. They're metallic coins that decidedly represent some value (to the lot owners and offices/buildings that issue them as 'validation' at least).

I can't imagine them being easily mistaken for real money, but I honestly can't see the Liberty Dollar as being mistaken either.


Parking tokens(or arcade tokens) shouldn't have any issues.

They aren't issued for general currency like coins are, they are used to redeem a specific service provided by the people issuing the tokens.

In that way, their redeemable value never changes. A parking token means that you will be able to park in a space for a certain amount of time, no matter how much they are work in terms of actual currency.


I have looked at the relevant laws, an the liberty dollar does not violate either. They never passed it off as government money, nor did they mint any coins. (Coins are government only, so to have minted them they would have had to pass them off as government money.) These are not easily mistaken for government money, and there are a variety of other currencies, such as disney dollars, that are passed off, are physical objects, and are exchanged "as money would be" (though that phrase is not relevant legally, that standard is your opinion.)


Please don't cite dictionary definitions. A dictionary will give you every possible meaning of the word, in any context.

In the context of economics and law, currency is physical money.

I think you are more interested in winning the argument than being correct.


OK, knock it off. This is exactly the kind of comment that's been leading to HN's oldest of oldtimers to conclude that there's been a decline in civility here.

edit: looks like he edited his comment while I was replying; his comment originally ended with, "I hoped your ilk would never find currency on this site, but I guess the day was going to come.", and was that way for at least 30 minutes before I replied.


I agree with you. Unfortunately, I allowed my common sense to be temporarily overrode by the desire to make a pun.


I'm not sure that the dictionary definition of currency really matters here. I assume/hope that there is a legal definition of currency. Also, I think it will be very difficult to discuss this constructively without legal opinions on the definition of currency.


Macro and micro economics are AP tests... thousands of schools across the country teach classes in the topic.


My understanding of economics is sufficient that I understood we'd be having a housing bubble in 2001, and by 2007, I'd profited massively from it and gotten out, well before the crash of 2008. All of that came from my application of economic principles.

I don't think I'm entitled to my own facts. But I have read the laws here, and I find your response to be devoid of any actual argument or citation of facts and full of smear and insinuation.


Having made money in the past through whatever means doesn't mean you know what you're talking about at all here.

Or, to requote the parents, "One of the signs you're dealing with a nut is that the knowledge he thinks he has allows him to accept or reject facts as he so chooses."


One of the signs you're dealing with a troll is that their ignorance is all the justification they need to make personal attacks, and they stay relentlessly focused on such attacks while failing to provide any substantive argument for their position. Often even failing to actually state their position.

There are too many trolls on HN. This is why the site sucks.


http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/486.html

It seems extraordinarily cut and dry to me, but I'm not a lawyer (and by your post I assume you're not either).


It would be cut and dry if you could show any "utterances" from the Liberty Dollar / NORFED, where they represented their products as US government money.

They did not, and further, they were careful to put disclaimers on their warehouse receipts, and various features on the physical pieces to make it clear that this was not being represented as government money. For instance, ever piece contained a copyright statement on it, something the government would not do.

For further details (since the judge ordered the liberty dollar website taken down): http://www.chambersburglibertydollar.com/disclaimer.htm


> Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title [1] or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. [Emphasis mine.]

They were minting physical coins. They called them dollars. Just because they decided they didn't think they were legally coinage or currency doesn't change the fact that, that's very obviously the intent.

Their whole disclaimer is delivered with a wink and nudge.


"They were minting physical coins."

No, they were not: "a piece of metal stamped and issued by the authority of a government for use as mony"

"They called them dollars." So does disney: http://www.disneydollars.net/

"Just because they decided they didn't think they were legally coinage"

This is a dishonest characterization. They had opinions from independant council, the secret service, members of federal reserve branches, etc, all saying that the product was legal.

"very obviously the intent." You believe this because you want to believe it. However, the decade of actions that the organization took, between 1998 and 2008, involved monthly newsletters, and repeated production of brochures, the website, and other writing all of which made it clear that people who had liberty dollars were not to put them forth as if they were us government money. They spent the majority of their educational effort in conflict with what you claim is their "obvious" intent.

"Their whole disclaimer is delivered with a wink and nudge."

I understand that you feel you can just tell lies about people and somehow you feel justified in doing so. But in honorable society, doing so reflects very poorly on your own integrity. I have to wonder, what motivates you, who have clearly no knowledge of this organization or its actions, to attack them with these dishonest smears?

Unfortunately, many americans think like you do. The FBI calls them terrorists, railroads them and people think the justice system works.

It is no wonder things are moving the way they are in the USA if your views, as I suspect, are widely echoed.


> No, they were not: "a piece of metal stamped and issued by the authority of a government for use as mony"

The fact that § 486 exists suggests that, under the law, it doesn't have to be a government minting something for it to be a coin. Otherwise nobody could ever violate that law, right? Courts consider the intent of a law when interpreting it, and it's fairly clear what is meant here; only the government is _allowed_ to mint coins, but you can theoretically mint coins if you're not the government (it's just illegal then).

> This is a dishonest characterization. They had opinions from independant council, the secret service, members of federal reserve branches, etc, all saying that the product was legal.

None of these people's opinions have any legal weight. Only a judge can actually provide a binding opinion stating that what you're doing is legal. Additionally, as cited from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Dollar#Legal_issues , there have been opinions in the opposite direction from secret service agents and the US Mint; if you're going to try to argue from authority (which is a bad idea anyway), you can't ignore contrary opinions at the same time.

Indeed, the Liberty Dollar project seems to have sued to get a binding opinion stating whether they were legal, and were raided shortly thereafter. This seems to indicate that, since the Liberty Dollar project forced the Justice department to take a side on whether they were legal or not, the Justice department prosecutors may have been forced to, well, prosecute.

> Unfortunately, many americans think like you do. The FBI calls them terrorists, railroads them and people think the justice system works.

Did the FBI really call them terrorist? I'd like to see a citation for that. In any case, this is hardly railroading. It happened four years ago, and with a jury trial. Two years passed from the start of the investigation to the indictment and arrest. The trial itself took another two years. You may disagree with the laws themselves, but I find it hard to see how the laws were misapplied here. § 485 and § 486 are really quite clear if you read them.


The law he cites rather explicitly said "in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design" are all covered. Metal coins of original design are still illegal to manufacture (though I'd agree they shouldn't be).


Interesting, as I have a number of Chuck E. Cheese tokens that appear to fit this description. Why don't we ever hear about FBI raids of kids' pizza / video game parlors?


I suspect that if the use of Chuck E. Cheese tokens as a medium of exchange were to become widespread in a given locale (one with the profile of Las Vegas) the Secret Service would take a similar interest.

As it is, come on. Their budget is finite.



Looks like the test in question is metal coinage, which Ithaca Hours aren't.


Probably because they are only meant for use inside Chuck E. Cheese stores.


The first definition of coin: "a piece of metal stamped and issued by the authority of a government for use as mony"

These were not coins. They were not issued under government authority, nor were they represented as such.


Your pretend definition of what a "coin" is has no relevance in a court of law. They were printed metal tokens that had passing similarity to US coinage. The fact that they weren't issued by the authority of the government is the problem, not the solution.


That is the first definition from the dictionary definition. It is very difficult to debate an issue with people who are not aware of the basic definitions of the terms, and, despite their ignorance, make snide characterizations like "your pretend definition".

That they were not passed as government money is an affirmative defense.

That you idiots keep chiming in making personal attacks and espousing your ignorant perspective as if it was relevant is what makes this site pointless.

I'm not even involved with the Liberty Dollar. Why am I wasting time defending them against people with no integrity like you?


If I call my chair a "knife," that doesn't change the fact that I can sit in it. It is obvious to me - and, I assume, the judge who made the decision in this case - that the definition of the word "coin" in the law is not the same as the one you are using. That is, the law uses "coin" to mean a metallic object used as currency. Issued by the government or not is not part of the assumed definition. You can't sidestep the law by using a different definition of the word.


Shouldn't have printed the words "Dollar" and "USA" on the damn coins.


No, they are not currencies, they are payment methods for dollars. A note that you owe someone some amount of dollars is entirely different from saying, repeatedly, in advertisements, that you're an "alternative currency".


Normally I wouldn't be this pedantic, but in a discussion about currency, it's worthwhile specifying whether you mean American dollars, $some_other_country's dollars, or the Platonic form of dollars.


I meant US dollars, but now that I think of it, you can do transactions in any currency using Visa, which is more evidence that they're a payment system rather than a competing currency like "visabucks" or something.

The principle here is that you're not allowed to compete with the US gov't when it comes to providing the currency of the land. There are a lot of good reasons for this, and some mediocre reasons to oppose it, but at the end of the day it's pretty clear that there's a difference between Liberty Dollars and a cashier's check denoted in US dollars.


I've made the legal case in defense of those wrongfully convicted.

No you haven't. Even though I happen to agree with you about this, you are talking through your hat and are arguing politics, not law. You are your own worst enemy, because you have so little knowledge of how your own system of governance or justice works that you spend all your effort on venting your anger without achieving anything. Get educated, then get organized. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke.


> There is a federal law that makes it a felony to violate constitutional rights under color of law.

Never heard of that. Link?


42 USC 1983

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/usc_sec_42_00001983----...

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.


Here it is: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000242----...

USC 18-242

I called it a felony though the law only makes it one if a "dangerous weapon" is involved.


This law refers to race discrimination and isn't relevant to your argument.

Key part with lots of sub clauses removed for readability: "Whoever, under color of any law, willfully subjects any person in any State to the deprivation of any rights, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both;"


No, you're rewriting it by omitting the relevant clause. The race discrimination is one of the clauses that can invoke it, not the only one.

Let me quote it with line breaks for readability:

"Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, "

So, anyone who dies this.

"or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, "

Or who does this based on race, residency....

"shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both"

Shall be punished.

You can invoke the law by doing the first set of things, or by doing the second set of things.

It is an OR clause, meaning if A OR B are true, then the penalties apply. IF there were an AND on race, it would be the way you read it.


If you pay attention to the commas the structure of the law is:

If you do A OR B based on C

A: Deprivation of rights B: Different punishments

where C is on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race

I removed B to make it more readable in my initial comment because you were only talking about A.


"It could be drug money" says the "law enforcement officers" who take life savings and then spend it on themselves.

Reference?


This should get you started: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=forfei...

edited to add a feature article he wrote on it: http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/26/the-forfeiture-racket


Wish I could undo my upvote. The seizure is still subject to court proceedings. FUD.


The poker sites domains have already been seized.


After the fact you are able to try and prove that the money or assets were not used in the commission of a crime. How one could ever prove a negative is beyond me, and the burden of proof is higher than that required by the constitution which (IIRC) take the innocent until proven guilty perspective.

These poker sites have not been convicted of anything, nor was there a court proceeding where the siezure was proposed and the owners of the property had an option to defend their rights.

Further, as we've seen in case after case, even in situations where the victims are not involved in crime at all, the courts are stacked against them.


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