Chris Geldmacher is not a plaintiff in a lawsuit against PayPal, but he could play a key support role Poker League of Nations (PLON) founder Lena Evans in retrieving nearly $27,000 in confiscated funds from the online payment processing giant.
The 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) The Main Event Champion’s PayPal account was frozen and then terminated in May 2021 for violating the User Agreement (aka Terms of Service). At that point, he had over $12,000 in his account balance, money that was originally confiscated by PayPal.
Moneymaker threatened a lawsuit and to avoid public scrutiny, PayPal decided to return the funds to the American Cardroom ambassador. According to the Company’s Terms of Service, customers are not permitted to use a PayPal account to accept and make gambling-related payments. The former world champion had received some payments for a fantasy sports league he ran which was seen as a violation of the terms of service.
However, many argue that even if a user violates the Terms of Service, PayPal should not have any right to keep the funds remaining in the account, and here the outcome of a pending lawsuit depends on how the case is presented by both sides .
Evans is seeking legal action
Evans and two other plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit against PayPal United States District Court, Northern District of California, hoping to get confiscated account funds and other damages. The 37-page document, filed Jan. 13 Law firm Bensamochan explains the case against the defendant (PayPal).
Evans tells PokerNews Her account was initially suspended in May 2021 because she was told via email that she had violated the Terms of Service. In November 2021, PayPal sent her another email informing her that her account had been terminated and the remaining balance of over $26,000 would be confiscated.
She said she didn’t get much explanation. When asked what her PayPal account is being used for, she said it’s a necessary means of doing business.
“The PLON account was used for donations to support our free community,” Evans said PokerNews. “The PLONcares account is used to fundraise and make donations to support women in the poker community.”
PLONcares is a charity within the Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest women’s poker organization, with the aim of promoting women’s empowerment.
“We recently raised funds to support members who were impacted by the Kentucky hurricane,” Evans said of her PayPal transactions. “We have donated funds to a member who needed help with a custody battle, another member who was post-op after breast cancer surgery, to Toys for Tots and other people and organizations supporting women and children.
Evans said the emails from PayPal did not clarify the specific Terms of Service violations she allegedly committed. She argues that even if she violated the terms of service in some way, “it’s not legal for them to just steal my money.”
The moneymaker’s role in the case
Moneymaker won his case against PayPal before it even got into a courtroom. Since his money has been returned, his name does not appear on the new lawsuit, but he may only be contributing to the plaintiffs’ case.
Evans said the former PokerStars The Ambassador will act as an adviser and could possibly be summoned as a witness. The PLON founder believes Moneymaker could be a valuable asset for the team as he has previously won a similar case against PayPal.
moneymaker tells PokerNews His goal is to “help others” in hopes that they will achieve the same positive outcome. the Poker Hall of Fame has become the leader in the fight against what many refer to as PayPal, which unfairly steals money from customers.
The lawsuit was filed against @PayPal. It’s amazing what they try to do to people. #Thieves
Can PayPal legally confiscate money for violating the Terms of Service?
PayPal is used by millions of buyers and sellers around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from selling items on eBay to receiving a monthly salary from a freelance work client. According to the PayPal Terms of Service, customers are not allowed to use the platform for illegal activities, selling counterfeit goods, selling cigarettes, covering gambling expenses, etc.
As Evans acknowledged, her case isn’t just about whether or not she violated the User Agreement. The pending issue for the courts to resolve is whether PayPal can legally confiscate funds from customers who violate the Terms of Service, and she argues they don’t have that right. The poker player and businesswoman says PayPal “stole” her money without legal justification and hopes the court system will agree.
PayPal, a $21 billion company, used some carefully crafted wording in the lengthy terms of service that explained what they would do if a customer violated the rules.
“It’s on them to prove how they suffered damage,” Evans said of her appeal in court.
The case against PayPal
Law firm Bensamochan, attorneys for Moneymaker and Evans, drafted a lawsuit against PayPal that contained a nine count complaint as follows:
“To the best of our knowledge and belief, the defendant is seizing these funds without first obtaining a conclusive finding of actual violations by users,” reads Section 8 of the lawsuit.
In Section 10, the Bensamochan law firm begins arguing that PayPal never suffered financial damage, as Evans argues.
“The defendant is arbitrarily seizing amounts based on a penalty clause buried in the defendant’s user agreement that is unrelated to the actual damages suffered by the defendant,” the document said.
Aside from PayPal unfairly seizing account funds, the lawsuit also claims the payment processor failed to “adequately notify users whose accounts are on hold”.
Eric Bensamochan, Counsel for Plaintiffs Evans, Roni Shemtov, and Shbadan Akylbekov, is asking the court to award its clients post-judgment damages, attorneys’ fees and interest.
Avoiding PayPal problems
During the pandemic, many poker players started playing private home games through online poker platforms. Transferring funds between players is easy in today’s world, especially with apps like PayPal.
But, as you’ve probably discovered in this story, there are some downsides to using PayPal, most notably the risk of having your funds confiscated for violating the user agreement. So how do you mitigate your risk and ensure your money is safe and secure?
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One option is to always transfer all or most of your PayPal balance to your bank account immediately. If you’re transferring money for private home gaming expenses or fantasy sports leagues, advising players to leave the comments section blank is a wise decision. Many PayPal accounts have been terminated because buyers left a gambling-related note along with the payment.
Another way to avoid these issues is to use a different payment processor such as PayPal cell, Venmo, or cash app. Aside from that, a number of poker players have reported the same issues with money being confiscated for alleged T&C violations.
PayPal’s goods and services option provides useful protection for a shopper, a key reason why so many e-commerce shoppers prefer the CashApp or cell platform.
For example, in the sports card industry, when a card is sold through Facebook, most buyers require the seller to use PayPal so they can use the “Goods and Services” option to ensure they are not scammed. Buyers and sellers must decide whether the benefits outweigh the risk.
Should Evans succeed in her lawsuit, it could force PayPal to make some changes that would end their practice of seizing funds for user agreement violations, an outcome that would certainly be welcomed by users across all industries. The poker enthusiast encourages anyone else affected by the PayPal funds seizure to join the lawsuit.