Full Tilt Poker, one of the Internet’s most popular poker sites, operated “as a massive Ponzi scheme against its own players,” alleges Manhattan’s US attorney.

The allegations come as part of a civil money laundering complaint claiming that funds the site raised went to pay members of its board of directors, which includes poker pros Howard Lederer and Christopher “Jesus” Ferguson. The board is reported to have taken $440 million since April 2007.

The complaint says that the site did not maintain enough money in its account to repay players because board members took such large sums of money for themselves. Even after it became clear there weren’t enough funds to support the demand of its players, the site continued to allow players to make bets with $130 million of “phantom funds.”

In April, the FBI closed PokerStars, Full Tilt, and AbsolutePoker in a crackdown on the online gaming industry. The latest revelations are sure to have damaging longterm effects for players, too.

[Forbes]