In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of Queensland has issued a default judgment compelling Marley Wynter, the founder of an alleged Ponzi scheme targeting Australian poker players, to pay a total of $4.8 million in restitution to 11 plaintiffs. This ruling underscores the severity of the allegations against Wynter and his operation, Marley’s House of Sport (MHS), which claimed to generate nearly $30 million in profits within a year.

Legal implications and judgment details:

The Supreme Court’s decision includes reparations covering initial investments, promised profits, and accrued interest, marking a substantial victory for the plaintiffs who pursued legal action against Wynter. Notably, Wynter did not contest the allegations brought against him, highlighting the overwhelming evidence presented in court.

Concerns about MHS potentially operating as a Ponzi scheme first surfaced through the efforts of Craig Abernethy, a respected figure in the Queensland poker community and advocate for industry transparency. Abernethy’s early warnings prompted the creation of a dedicated Facebook group with over 350 members, where affected individuals shared their experiences and sought recourse.

MHS positioned itself as a financial investment service specializing in sports betting, horse racing, and strategic bankroll management. The operation allegedly attracted over 12,000 investors, primarily from the poker community, leveraging Wynter’s visibility and credibility within the industry. Sponsorship of events like the Australian Poker Tour (APT) and seminars held during major tournaments facilitated direct engagement with potential clients.

Operational timeline and investor losses:

Despite mounting suspicions and Abernethy’s efforts to expose the scheme, MHS continued to operate until January 26, 2023, when it abruptly ceased operations. Reports indicate that Wynter persistently solicited investments even after the cessation, exacerbating financial losses estimated to exceed $3 million.

Victims of the Ponzi scheme recounted various obstacles when attempting to withdraw funds, including resistance from MHS, falsified documentation suggesting payments that never materialized, and delays in processing legitimate withdrawals. Allegations further suggested that Wynter manipulated company policies and terms to discourage investors from seeking refunds.

As PokerMedia Australia reports, Craig Abernethy expressed cautious optimism regarding the legal outcome: “My primary objective was to expose Wynter’s fraudulent activities and prevent future victimization,” he stated. “While recovering lost funds may be challenging, achieving a court ruling is a significant step towards justice.” Abernethy emphasized the importance of vigilance within the poker community and urged enhanced regulatory oversight to safeguard investors from similar scams.

The Supreme Court’s ruling represents a pivotal moment in holding Marley Wynter accountable for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that exploited trust and financial vulnerability. Although the road to financial recovery may be arduous for victims, the verdict aims to provide closure and deter fraudulent practices within the betting and gaming sectors. The case underscores the critical role of transparency, accountability, and community vigilance in safeguarding against financial fraud.