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Cherry Red Casino and Moneybookers: confiscation of winnings and apparent breach of the UK Data Protection Act


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cherry Red Casino and Moneybookers: confiscation of winnings and apparent breach of the UK Data Protection Act


Cherry Red Casino is a Casinomeister accredited online casino. Accredition by Bryan "Casinomeister" Bailey is an indication of general trustworthiness for many players.

The casino does not provide an "about us" page, and offers practically no information about itself apart from a single entry, buried deep in the FAQ, which mentions Nicosia, in Cyprus, as its location.

The web site is sparse, tacky and inspires little confidence.

But they are accredited by Casinomeister and, as such, many players trust them, warts and all.


In May 2009, Cherry Red Casino was reported to me as having confiscated USD $5000 in winnings, derived from an $800 deposit and a $2000 bonus, in December 2008. This is what the casino offered as justification for this behaviour - I have seen all the relevant emails and can confirm they are genuine:


We are contacting you concerning your withdrawal at Cherry Red Casino.

Your account has been investigated and the outcome of these investigations is that your account has been deemed to be fraudulent and your winnings are therefore null and void. You will not be able to withdrawal (sic) your winnings from Cherry Red and your account has been deactivated. We have worked closely with third parties to ascertain which players are genuine and which are fraudulent and yours has come back as being connected to other players in Europe and as having transferred funds between Moneybookers accounts.

Regards,

Cherry Red Fraud Department



The casino specifically confirms receipt of confidential information from Moneybookers, as opposed to "third parties", in another email:


We are certain that the information we had received from Moneybookers and third parties constitute to the answers we have given players.



There are two important things to note here:


In the first place, transferring funds between Moneybookers accounts is not at all illegal, it is a standard Moneybookers service - see the benefits page:


You can send money worldwide to anyone with an email address - even if the recipient does not have a Moneybookers account yet.

When you make payments from one account to another, the transaction will process instantly and will be viewable in your Moneybookers account history.



Nothing illegal there, so why does Cherry Red cite this as indicative of fraud?

The player in question was also confused:


I have indeed transferred funds between Moneybookers accounts. These transactions have solely been to local friends' accounts. My friends are all legitimate casino and/or poker players.

I find nothing fraudulent in transferring Moneybooker funds. I also know that none of my friends have ever played at a Rushmore group casino, so how my Moneybookers transactions can imply fraud is a mystery to me.



However, the most important question is: Why did Moneybookers furnish the casino with this information in the first place?

They clearly did so, as there would be no way for the casino to know about the player's Moneybookers activity, the "...transferred funds between Moneybookers accounts" mentioned in the first email, other than from information received from Moneybookers itself.

And of course, the casino confirms receipt of information from Moneybookers in the second email.



Moneybookers is regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority and therefore answers to UK law, including the Data Protection Act, which makes specific requirements concerning the distribution of personal data.

In the "Rights of data subjects and others" section of the DPA, the following is stated:


7 Right of access to personal data

(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section and to sections 8 and 9, an individual is entitled -

(a) to be informed by any data controller whether personal data of which that individual is the data subject are being processed by or on behalf of that data controller,

(b) if that is the case, to be given by the data controller a description of -

(i) the personal data of which that individual is the data subject,

(ii) the purposes for which they are being or are to be processed, and

(iii) the recipients or classes of recipients to whom they are or may be disclosed,

(c) to have communicated to him in an intelligible form -

(i) the information constituting any personal data of which that individual is the data subject, and

(ii) any information available to the data controller as to the source of those data



This tells us that a consumer must be informed when and why his personal data is being processed - "processing" is defined by the act as...


...disclosure of the information or data by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available.



Moneybookers have contravened all the above -

• They did not inform the customer that his data was to be disseminated.

• They did not tell him the exact data to be revealed.

• They did not tell him who was to receive the data.

• They did not tell him the purpose of the disclosure of the information.


This is not a new activity on the part of Moneybookers. In July last year I reported on another such incident in the Moneybookers potential breach of UK law article, on which occasion Moneybookers received, as opposed to disseminated, confidential customer information.

Then, as now, a complaint against Moneybookers with the FSA is in order, and I would encourage any player in a similar situation to pursue this line.


Putting aside the behaviour of Moneybookers, equally concerning is the response the player received from Casinomeister:


Whether you are innocent or not, your activities make you indistinguishable from people that are cheating the casino and/or violating casino terms. As such, we support Rushmore's decision.

This case is now closed at Casinomeister.



It seems extraordinary to dismiss a claim with no apparent regard for the player's innocence or guilt, and on the basis of unspecified activities some of which are not at all illegal:


As it happens, in this case some of the evidence is already known to you, ie. the Moneybookers stuff - which you have openly admitted is valid.


It is valid. But again, it is not illegal. Why are they implying that a legal activity is illegal, fraudulent or evidence of fraud?


Just for good measure, the player was prevented from making any public comment on the matter:


As to posting in the forums, I'm afraid that will not be permitted. Based on the evidence in your case I am closing your Casinomeister membership.



Why ever?

If the player is guilty, then allow him to show himself as such and bolster the public perception of Cherry Red Casino as a paragon of online gambling respectability, rightly taking a stance against a fraudster.

To prevent public comment, and to then go so far as to revoke the player's membership, suggests that the evidence with the which the player was tried and convicted was at best weak, if it exists at all. If not, it makes no sense to stifle public comment.


There are three conclusions to draw here:


1) Cherry Red Casino will solicit confidential player information from online payment solution Moneybookers.

2) Moneybookers will, if the casino's testimony is correct, happily comply and put itself in breach of the laws to which they answer.

3) Online gambling industry self-proclaimed "watchdog" Casinomeister will dismiss such cases, notwithstanding the demonstrable apparent illegal behaviour of at least one very big player in the online payment solution industry which it should be considered right, fair and necessary to expose, and irrespective of the player's entirely legal and non-fraudulent actions in their dealings with that entity - person to person transfers are not illegal, and are encouraged by Moneybookers.


On several levels this is another shameful example of misconduct in the online gambling industry.


***Update 24th July 2009***:

Here is my subsequent correspondence with Moneybookers:


Hello,

I understand that Moneybookers will disclose confidential customer information to its casino clients at their request. In one instance, I've seen the emails in which the casino, Cherry Red, states this to a customer (etc etc)...

As such, Moneybookers certainly disclosed some form of confidential customer information to a casino.

Can you please tell the nature of confidential information that Moneybookers will disclose about its customers to its casino clients, and why? Also, why does Moneybookers not inform the relevant customer when his account data is discussed with third parties?

I welcome your comments and clarifications.

Thanks,

Regards,

HPG editor



Dear HPG editor,

Please note that as per our Terms & Conditions we provide information about our customers to third parties ONLY in proven cases of fraudulent activity and only to prevent further abuse of ours or merchant's systems and rules.

In case the merchant contacts our Anti-Fraud Department with an inquiry about the account condition of mutual customers we can only confirm the details already provided and whether the account is in good standing with us or not.

I would like to assure you that your personal details as well as all details for other customers of our company are kept confidential and are not disclosed to third parties according to the regulations of the FSA.

I hope the provided information has been useful, in case there is anything else I can assist you with, please don't hesitate to let me know. It would be my pleasure to help out.

Best regards,

Moneybookers VIP Team




Thank you for replying.

I'd like to give a specific example: If a merchant comes to you and says, "we believe there is a connection between accounts X, Y and Z. Can you please tell us if accounts X, Y and Z have had money transferred between them?", would Moneybookers, in this instance, say "Yes, that is correct", "No, that is not the case" or "This is not information that Moneybookers is at liberty to disclose"?

Thanks,

HPG editor



Dear HPG editor,

In case they just want to confirm a connection between different Moneybookers accounts, we will not disclose any information. The only case we may confirm if there has been activity between different accounts if the merchant comes to us with a specific case, where they have confirmed fraudulent or abusive customer behavior and this case has been evaluated by our Anti-Fraud team, who have established that there has been suspicious transaction activity.

In such a scenario, they will contact the merchant directly to confirm the details which we have received. I hope this clarifies the matter further, if there is anything else I can do for you, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Best regards,

Moneybookers VIP Team


So, if the casino says "there is fraudulent activity", Moneybookers will disclose the required details, as long as Moneybookers has also confirmed "suspicious activity" themselves.

What Moneybookers considers "suspicious activity" is not clear - transfers between accounts are not illegal. I'll try to get an answer on this.


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6 Previous Comments


Thanks for this great posting and shame on Casinomeister!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 am  


I have to agree with the previous poster, players know there are a lot of dodgy casinos, but most players think this could never happen at a Casinomeister-accredited casino.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 am  


In light of some comments I've read round and about, I think I need to clarify that I am not personally involved in this, other than reviewing the player / casino email correspondence and writing this article. I have no personal issue with the Rushmore group. Nor, for that matter, has Moneybookers divulged any of my confidential details, to the best of my knowledge.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 12:38 am  



And the Rushmore payment delays continue.

And Rushmore is still one of the Casinomeister accredited casinos, a list which is to all intents and purposes worthless.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 3:23 pm  


That Casinomeister is just as untrustworthy as the casinos that pay him to advertise on his website that their website is "legitamite". Ive been screwed by a casino he calls "trustworthy". I would take his word with a grain of salt. I was thinking about depositing in Cherry red but I think I won't. Does anyone have a casino that they recommend? Im a US player.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:49 pm  


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