The other day somebody agreed to pay for an ad to continue appearing on this blog after its initially agreed-upon run had concluded. He asked if making payment through a Full Tilt Poker fund transfer was acceptable to me. I said sure. I've used that means before without any problem--with this same advertiser, in fact.
The money was transferred to me, and I then initiated a withdrawal of the same amount. (The payment was for more than I usually keep on account, and more than I could reasonably expect to actually put into play, given how little I do on the site.) To my surprise, the request for withdrawal was denied. When I wrote to FTP to ask the reason, this was the response:
Your recent $____ withdrawal request has been declined.
We have determined that you have been receiving funds from another player solely for the purpose of withdrawing them. We have reviewed both accounts and discovered that you and __________ deposited and transferred these funds without any intention of playing on the site.
We offer our services to provide a safe and secure environment to play online poker and not to facilitate the movement of funds.
As we do not condone this activity, please do not attempt to withdraw funds for other players in this manner. If you do not intend to play with these funds, please transfer them back to ___________.
Any further evidence of this type of activity may result in a permanent suspension from Full Tilt Poker and possible forfeiture of funds.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Full Tilt Poker Support
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I can understand FTP not wanting to become a de facto PayPal, when they get nothing from processing the transfers. But on the other hand, it seems that the manpower involved in monitoring and investigating this kind of transfer costs them more than it could be worth. We're talking less than $500 here, and it has happened twice in six months--not the kind of volume or frequency that I would think worthy of their attention and concern.
I think that on the first occasion I waited a couple of weeks before I put in the withdrawal request, and it was for less than the full amount. I'm not sure whether it was the immediacy of the recent request, or the fact that it was for the same amount as I had just received, or the fact that this was the second transfer from the same person, or some combination of those factors that triggered the investigation and denial. Perhaps the advertiser added exactly that same amount to his account just before transferring it to me, and it was the 1-2-3 combination of deposit-transfer-withdrawl that caught their attention. I just don't know what sets off their alarms.
Maybe it would have been OK before, but FTP has changed their practices over the last six months to clamp down on this sort of thing. If so, my guess is that the change came about because of the UltimateBlecch scandal, in which, as I understand it, the movement of large sums from one account to another without scrutiny from the site was a key part of keeping the scam going.
Or maybe it's all part of FTP's long-term mission to help make implausible the occasionally heard argument that online gaming sites are used for criminal money laundering. After all, with the kind of volume and frequency of cash they have seen me moving around, I could easily be an Al Qaeda operative or part of the Medellin cocaine cartel, right?
Anyway, I transferred the money back and we moved it through PayPal instead. I am left puzzled and slightly annoyed (not an entirely unfamiliar state of being).