EXTORTION PLOT AGAINST POKER PROS EXPOSED
A case in the Los Angeles court attracted the attention of online poker industry observers this week, outlining as it did an attempt to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from several high profile poker players, including Joe Sebok.
The Associated Press news agency reports that two California men were sentenced to federal prison for hacking into the email accounts of the professional poker players and using naked pictures and private information to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said Monday.
Tyler Schrier, 23, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and Keith James Hudson, 39, was sentenced to two years, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy T. Wu.
Hudson admitted hacking into a player's account to steal naked pictures and plotted with Schrier on how to extort players, prosecutors said.
Schrier pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other crimes in the fall 2010 scheme to hack the email account of poker pro Joe Sebok.
Armed with the illegally obtained intimate emails and photos, Schrier threatened to make them public unless Sebok and other victims paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said. Schrier later sent a nude photo of Sebok to about 100 people.
Sebok addressed the court during sentencing Monday, saying the plot's victims had "their lives altered and shattered in irreparable ways." He said the photos caused him to lose work representing brands in the poker industry, and damaged his reputation moving forward.
"In short, I was no longer able to maintain my then-current level of participation in the poker industry, representing the brands that I had been previously, as well as greatly destroying my ability to do so with new companies moving forward," Sebok said.
"Without belaboring the point too much, it was a nightmare, and one that I was forced to live through with millions of people watching."
Schrier pleaded guilty to conspiracy, extortion, and unauthorised access to a protected computer, whilst Hudson pleaded guilty to unauthorised access to a protected computer for financial gain. Schrier also admitted that he had previously extorted more than $26,000 in a separate plot.
A third defendant in the case, 22-year-old Ryder Finney, pleaded guilty to conspiracy; his prison term will be handed down later this month.
The names of the other victims were not revealed - they were identified only by initials in court documents.