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Gossip Column: Chris Moneymaker’s Lawsuit Against PayPal to Star Lena Evans as Lead Plaintiff

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  • Attreyee Khasnabis January 17, 2022
  • 4 Minutes Read

The long-awaited class-action lawsuit against digital payment processor PayPal, accusing it of racketeering for illegally seizing customer funds, was filed on January 14 in California. The lawsuit names two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Lena Evans as its lead plaintiff in a case designed to challenge PayPal’s account seizure and confiscation policies.

Lena Evans
Lena Evans

 

Evans, the founder of the non-profit Poker League of Nations (PLON) and CEO of poker tournament organizer Helix Poker, is joined by two other plaintiffs, Roni Shemtov and Shbadan Akybekov. More plaintiffs may be added at a later date.

The lawsuit has been in the works for months and initially featured famed poker pro Chris Moneymaker as the lead plaintiff. In March 2021, PayPal first froze his online account for six months before seizing his entire $12,229 balance on the grounds he was flouting the site’s anti-gambling policy. But after news of the planned lawsuit surfaced in poker news outlets, PayPal unexpectedly refunded Moneymaker his funds.

Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker

 

The refund forced Moneymaker to withdraw from the lawsuit, although he vowed to continue working as an advisor on the case. Moneymaker’s lawyer, Eric Bensamochan, with the former’s assistance, kept building the case against PayPal by finding other account holders who had had their accounts frozen and funds seized, allegedly unlawfully.

 

While numerous other possible plaintiffs brought their cases to the Bensamochan Law Firm for consideration, he ultimately selected PLON founder Evans for the lead-plaintiff role. Evans had her own PayPal horror story about enduring, as described within the case filing.

Evans told PokerNews her account was initially frozen in May 2021, and she was informed via an email that she had violated the site’s Terms of Service. In November 2021, PayPal sent her another email advising her that her account had been terminated and that the remaining balance, over $26,000, would be confiscated.

She said she wasn’t given much of an explanation. When asked what her PayPal account was used for, she said it was a necessary means for conducting business.

“The PLON account was used for donations to support our free community,” Evans told PokerNews. “The PLON cares account is used to raise funds and make donations to support women in the poker community.”

“We recently raised funds to help support members who were affected by the Kentucky hurricane,” Evans said of her PayPal transactions. “We donated funds to a member who needed assistance with a child custody battle, another member who was post-op from breast cancer surgery, to Toys for Tots, and other individuals and organizations supporting women and children.”

Evans said the emails from PayPal didn’t clarify the specific TOS violations she supposedly committed. She argues that even if she violated TOS in some way, it’s “not legal for them to just steal my money.”

While Moneymaker and Evans are connected to the world of gambling and poker, the other plaintiffs, Shemtov and Akylbekov, are business people who claim PayPal stole the money they earned selling wares.

In Shemotov’s case, she was told three different reasons her money was seized, including charging too little for her yoga clothing. The other two reasons PayPal gave were that she used the same IP address as other users and had multiple accounts. The lawsuit claims these accusations are baseless.

In Akylbekov’s case, PayPal said it was allowed to seize and keep the money because of damages caused by violating portions of the User Agreement, which were not defined.

All three plaintiffs spell out how PayPal simply ignored their questions and concerns, some of which were submitted in writing to the company’s attorneys.

PayPal responded to the matter, stating, “We will react to the charges through the suitable lawful diverts at the appropriate time.”

Keep following PokerGuru for more updates on this developing story!

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3 months ago

While PLON Cares is a non-profit doing great things for charity, pretty sure Helix & PLON poker leagues are just running live & online games. Anyone using PayPal for poker funds have been fighting to keep money, so you may want to consider other cash apps (Venmo or Zelle) to protect your hard earned money!

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