Daniel Tzvetkoff - Black Friday Contributor
Daniel Tzvetkoff is a very intelligent man that started developing computer software programs at a very early age. By age twenty one, he owned his own online billing company, Intabill, which was very successful as their main clients were the top poker sites in the industry.
Unfortunately, misconduct on Tzvetkoff's part led the company going bankrupt which meant he owed a lot of people, a lot of money. He eventually was caught and in order to escape jail-time, he worked alongside the FBI, becoming the man behind online poker's Black Friday.
How It All Started
Daniel Tzvetkoff was born in October of 1983. You could easily say that Tzvetkoff was a nerd from the start, being intrigued by computers and developing his first web design business by the time he turned thirteen. His talent was so evident that The New York Times hired him to animate the cartoons for their website.
One year later, he was making so much money that he decided to drop out of school. He had developed a software program that would ease the process of online transactions and it was very popular among newer businesses. It wasn't until 2004 when he officially owned his own company, Intabill, which quickly became one of the most trusted online billing companies in the country.
Intabill - An Instant Success
Tzvetkoff wanted to focus solely on the software development side to the business, so he hired Sam Sciacca to handle the business side. Sciacca was a lawyer with twelve years experience and was more educated than Tzvetkoff who never made it to college.
The business grew approximately ten to twenty percent every month since it first came into production. Before Tzvetkoff knew it, his company had over five thousand clients across seventy different countries, causing Tzvetkoff to reach Business Review Weekly's Young Rich List.
His new lifestyle certainly reflected the amount of money he made, as he owned and traveled in a private jet, a yacht, and a $70,000 Lamborghini. We also can't help but mention that his house was worth over $28 million dollars.
Tzvetkoff had so much money on his hands that it was almost overwhelming for him, so his business partner, Sciacca, suggested that they open Hugo Services and Trendsact, a payday lending service, which they ran with two other gentlemen: John Scott Clark and Curtis Pope. In just nine short months the company had managed to double its initial value of $30,000 million dollars.
The Ups and Downs of the Industry
In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act had been passed, forcing many poker sites to stop accepting transactions from US customers. This is where Tzvetkoff steps in and offered a way for those sites to stay in business with US customers, by illegally providing an online billing system that will allow them to do so. Intabill signed a contract with three major sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.
Intabill took off after they picked up these three huge clients and they seemed to be on a steady up rise until the end of 2008, when Intabill started to have issues with processing their bigger clients' payments, which of course included their newly added poker sites. Intabill had over $20 million dollars worth of frozen accounts, and they were truly struggling financially.
In order to compensate from their financial losses, Tzvetkoff and Sciacca started taking out profits from Hugo Services and Trendsact to repay their clients from Intabill. They were on the right track until they stopped receiving payments from their payday loan company, leaving them confused and very angry.
After look deeper into the issue, they discovered that their business partners, Clark and Pope, had transferred all of Hugo Services and Trendsact's assets to an account that only they had access to, essentially making it impossible for them to payback their Intabill customers.
Tzvetkoff and Sciacca angrily rushed to Las Vegas to see if they could settle the issue, but it didn't take them long to realize that things were seriously wrong after they arrived. Security met them at the door of their office building and they were denied access to their own offices.
After they came back home, they immediately tried to take legal action against Clark and Pope, but their clients were losing their patience with them, as they weren't receiving any funds during this time. Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars in particular started complaining and it wasn't long before Full Tilt Poker pressed charges against Intabill.
A forensic accountant was brought in to see if there was any misconduct on their side of the fence and it was discovered that Tzvetkoff had been slowly taking funds from Intabill's main account and transferring them to his own personal one in the form of loans to make it look less suspicious.
How This All Relates to Black Friday
After being on the run for several months, Tzvetkoff was found in Las Vegas and was arrested by the FBI for leading a $540 million dollar racket for over two years and for owing over $140 million dollars to creditors and in back taxes. To avoid a sentence of seventy-six years in prison, Tzvetkoff struck a deal with the FBI and became their informant, ultimately leaking information to them that would lead to the unfortunate events of Black Friday.
Tzvetkoff, his fiancé, and their two young children were placed in witness protection in New York's Harlem while awaiting trial. Thanks to Tzvetkoff's assistance, many of his former friends and clients in the industry were now facing either heavy fines or short jail terms.
Among these men was his ex-partner, Curtis Pope, who had burned him several years prior. Pope was sentenced to serve twenty-one months in prison after pleading guilty to crimes involving money-laundering and illegal gambling.
On April 15th, 2011, the Department of Justice raided all of the world's biggest online poker sites, including the three that had been clients to Intabill. Seventy-five bank accounts across fourteen different countries were frozen and billions of winnings and personal fortunes ultimately disappeared.
Police were thankful for Tzvetkoff's help, but they were still confused about all the money he had stolen, as it wasn't all accounted for. Investigator Leighton on the case said, "Rumours persist that Daniel Tzvektoff may have managed to hide away some of the money he earned as neither the Intabill liquidator, nor the Department of Justice have found any evidence of the alleged missing millions."
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: November 2016