Anyone who’s ever used online banking, made a purchase from an ‘e-merchant‘, or transferred funds from the desktop computer or mobile device, has utilized a payment method. Most retail websites limit the number of payment options to something modedst, but online casino payment methods are just the opposite.
These websites often provide the highest possible range of methods, because they want to accommodate as many players, from as many countries, as possible. The more the merrier, as the old saying goes.
Selection is a good thing, and internet gamblers have become accustomed to the extensive variety of online casino payment methods. You have your selection of cards—credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, prepaid cards and vouchers. There are bank transfers and instant eChecks, including ACH and EFT. Online payment processors like Neteller, Skrill, EcoCard and Click2Pay are all very popular. The list goes on…
These are all viable, respectable, and wholly trusted ways to move money to/from an internet gambling account. But according to a Reuters exclusive, there are some very shady online casino payment methods out there. And by this, I don’t mean they’re ripping players off. I mean they’re operating in the shadows—pulling off what some have described as “the digital evolution of money laundering”.
Dummy Online Retailers Disguising Payments
An investigation by Reuters has uncovered seven websites disguised as internet retail stores, supposedly peddling household wares. But there is no warehouse stock of items. Purchases made do not result in wares being shipping out. In reality, they are just another online casino payment method.
Thee dummy retail sites are processing payments beneath the vigilant radar of credit card companies. The majority of payments are said to be processed for US customers, who are generally unable to deposit with international gambling websites due to credit/debit card and banking restrictions.
Card companies are required to “code” every transaction. Online gambling transactions, for example, are coded as 7995, and undergo much more scrutiny than the sale of traditional goods. In many jurisdictions, online gambling is illegal, therefore the financial institution will block any payment labeled as a 7995.
Disguising one type of payment as another to fly beneath this radar is known as “transaction laundering”.
“Transaction laundering is serious misconduct – often criminal,” said Dan Frechtling, head of product for financial compliance company G2 Web Services. “It violates the merchant’s agreement with its acquirer, allows prohibited goods and services to enter the payment system, and may flout anti-money laundering laws.”
Shedding Light On The Shadows
The erroneous retailers were discovered by chance, when an unsuspecting shopper attempted to purchase items from one of the websites. When no items arrived in the mail, the shopper posted documents on the internet in complaint, pointing to three separate websites as allegedly fraudulent retailers.
Reuters discovered the documents in late 2016 and decided to conduct an investigation. A reporter purchased a yard of burlap fabric from one of the websites, myfabricfactory.com. Although the website is run by a UK-based company called Sarphone Ltd., the fabric was priced in US dollars at $6.48 per yard, and advertised as having “many uses including lightweight drapes”.
A few weeks later, with no response from the website, and no burlap delivered, the reporter received an email from myfabricfactory.com. The product was deemed ‘out of stock‘, and the payment refunded. The reporter then called the customer support number provided, and that’s when the whole story of underground online casino payment methods unfurled.
Customer Support Leads to PSP Rep
He spoke to a woman who identified herself as Anna Richardson, and claimed to work for a ‘Payment Processing Service‘ (PSP), Agora Online Services. PSPs like Agora are in the business of processing and coding credit/debit card transactions.
Richardson stated that Agora works with “hundreds” of online gambling websites, particularly the online poker variety. However, Richardson’s identity, nor her story, could be authenticated.
Reuters attempted to contact the heads of the company. One respectfully declined to comment, and another could not be reached. The investigation continued, with orders placed at six other websites. All were unmet, with ‘out of stock’ notices and refunds issued in similar fashion.
These, too, are presumably online casino payment methods in disguise. There’s no telling how many of these dummy retail websites exist.