But ZOSOZ Players Are Not So Fortunate (Update)
February 16, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — Players at the defunct poker subscription site Zosoz.com are less fortunate than their counterparts at Fleet Street Games, according to reports in the Vadnais Heights Press. Instead of being taken care of by a reputable outfit like PokerStars, the Zosoz members have been largely left to fend for themselves … and the local police are now calling for them to come forward and assist in an investigation centered on the owners of the failed site.
Zosoz abruptly failed in December 2008 after only weeks of operations. A representative of the White Bear Lake-based company that ran the failed operation has for some time been promising that all people owed money will eventually get paid. And now the White Bear Lake Police Department is investigating possible fraud charges.
“We are at the initial stages of evidence gathering to determine what type of criminal activity may have occurred and whether or not any of this occurred in our jurisdiction,” said Police Chief Lynne Bankes this week.
Punters on Zosoz didn't bet money, but paid a monthly subscription fee, which the owner claims to have refunded. However, many users claim they are still owed winnings, others claim they received checks but these later bounced and others allege they have been paid nothing at all. Many players have flooded Internet message boards and the media with reports of their predicament and the unsatisfactory behavior of the owners of the enterprise.
And according to police chief Bankes, reports to the Police Department indicate that bounced checks "may exceed $50,000."
The alleged owner of Zosoz is one Michael Ogren, also owner of the Myth Night Club in the area, but he is apparently laying low and not returning phone calls. A company employee named Tim Belisle said the company fell victim to a "perfect storm" of "unfortunate circumstances" due to the present economy. Ogren still is working to “secure the resources needed” to pay off the debts, according to Belisle, who added he also hasn’t been paid for his services. “(Ogren) is doing everything he can to get everyone paid,” Belisle said.
The police are giving priority to local residents harmed by the closure and non-payments, but users will be further afield due to the Internet nature of the business.
“We need to evaluate the priority of our investigators’ time for the benefit of our citizens against the time to proceed with a criminal investigation that will have no inherent benefit to the people of White Bear Lake,” Bankes said. “This investigation will continue, albeit very slowly.”
Zosoz lists a White Bear Lake address on its website and the checks it has issued. But according to Bankes, the company has an Oakdale-bank account and listed a Woodbury address on its filing with the Secretary of State's Office.
“We are taking the initiative to gather the initial information and if we are found not to have jurisdiction in the case, will make referrals to the appropriate agencies,” Bankes said. “We are also looking at bringing in state and federal agencies as this case extends far beyond White Bear Lake boundaries.”
Anyone who believes they are owed money by Zosoz should contact Detective Angie Servatka at the White Bear Lake Police Department at 651-429-8511. They should preserve all evidence, such as bounced checks and bank statements.