Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Identity Theft: Online Gambling Sites Becoming Vigilant

Online gambling sites are becoming more aware of, and vigilant towards, cases of identity theft within their operations since the recent 3-year sentencing of Fouda Mourtada. The government of Morocco found Mourtada guilty of identity theft after opening an account with Facebook using a false profile in the name of Moulay Rachid, Prince of Morocco.

Another case in point, BackgammonMasters Mexico discovered false profiles within their system that included Prince William, Tom Cruise and Madonna. The online backgammon operation researched the accounts posing as these famous individuals and found them to be utterly false.

"We've seen a trend in the industry for people to register popular names, as we call them "Gold usernames" such as backgammonking, pokerking, blackjack-king and celebrity names which are just as popular," relayed a spokesperson for the popular backgammon and blackjack site, http://backgammonmasters.com. "We see people in game forums even buying and selling these usernames. For these people it's status, kind of like having a custom license plate. As long as the games are for fun, we are not concerned."

While the cases at BackgammonMasters only involved fun-money players, enjoying free games of Backgammon, Poker and 21 Blackjack, the outright identity theft and ensuing conviction that occurred at a major company like Facebook has perked the ears and sharpened the eyes of many Internet operations.

In the case of Fouda Mourtada, it would seem some governments are more offended than others when it comes to insulting their leaders. A group of petitioners and Human Rights activists felt the 3-year sentence was more harsh than necessary, and after enough signatures were delivered, Mourtada was released, having served only 43 days of his term. Even so, the case has brought online identity theft to the forefront.

Ali Ammar, Mourtada's lawyer, shared his view on the subject, "This is a cultural problem; this is the first time that a Moroccan poses as a very important personality on the Internet. This is already a common practice in European countries."

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