How deep does the tampered laptop scandal go?

First brought to light by Jens “Jeans” Kyllonen over two weeks, the laptop hacking scandal from the PokerStars European Poker Tour Barcelona seems to have much deeper roots than a couple of incidents in a single European city.

The thread itself has taken on a life of its own, and multiple other high stakes players have described similar incidents, one in Berlin involving Scott Seiver and one in Deauville involving Jason Koon.

Scott Seiver:

Jason Koon:

I don’t want to rehash my thoughts on player security and the potential for poker players to become targets, so in this article I’ll focus on the crimes themselves and what we can extrapolate from them.

Is this 100% Poker Related?

While everyone is jumping to conclusions we should all take a second and try to determine if this is a poker-specific crime, or if this is just criminals targeting visitors in swanky European hotels for identity theft or other crimes.

The problem in determining this is that these hotels are very brand conscious and other incidents, not involving poker players, are likely to go unreported –or at least they are reported in places that are a blind spot for the poker community.

Furthermore, it’s also unlikely that your casual traveler could be hit as hard as a poker player should the information on their laptop be compromised, and it’s doubtful they would not be as security-obsessed as an online poker player, possibly not even knowing they had been hacked or their computer tampered with.

While all signs are pointing to this being a crime specifically targeting high-stakes poker players, we shouldn’t rule out the handful of players that have come forward as victims being a coincidence in a larger-scale crime.

Is this an Inside Job?

Judging by responses in the thread on 2+2, it wouldn’t be overly difficult for a travelling group of poker-playing-scammers to follow the EPT around from stop to stop, perform a little reconnaissance on who is staying where, and wait for their moment to strike –presumably by masquerading as the target and asking the front desk for a new room key.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision a scenario where a €500 note is handed to someone at the front desk or even in security for a little information on specific guests: room number, current location, etc.

The third possibility –that the heads of security at hotels, or someone high-up with the EPT or PokerStars is involved– is by far the most scandalous, but also the most unlikely from a logistical standpoint. This doesn’t mean this isn’t the case –you never know how far a little greasing of the wheels will go – just that we shouldn’t jump right to this conclusion.



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