Judge gavel aces and dices on computer keyboard

Peter Jepsen Verdict a Mixed Victory for Poker Justice

Last week’s guilty verdict against former Danish poker pro Peter Jepsen for years of computer-based theft from other players offers at least a dollop of justice for many of those affected, even if some of those victims had to wait a long period to see justice done, and many of them might not never be fully reimbursed for their losses.

Jepsen stood accused of committing computer-based theft against several other pros, finding a way to gain access to the other pros’ laptops while at prominent international poker events. Jepsen then was able to install malicious software through which he gained surreptitious control of the other players’ machines, then used that access to empty their online accounts.

Peter Jepsen was once a sponsored poker pro, but those days are long past.

Jepsen, who played online for years under his “Zupp” screen name in addition to prominent live events, was found guilty on Monday of numerous malware-based thefts stretching from 2008 to 2014. Allegations against Jepsen and unknown others generated plentiful heated complaints in online forums, with many of those complaints stemming from Jepsen’s probable criminal behavior at a high-profile EPT stop. Eventually, several other Danish pros found to have been victimized by Jepsen filed a complaint against him in Denmark in late 2014, and that case marched through that country’s court system for nearly half a decade before Jepsen’s guilt was affirmed. Jepsen, though, has already filed an appeal, seeking an acquittal in the criminal case.

Monday’s ruling by the Copenhagen City Court involved a four-year sentence for Jepsen, with six months deducted from the sentence immediately due to the overly long trial. Danish news reports detail the terms of Jepsen’s sentencing without mentioning him by name, due to the country’s unusual privacy restrictions. The rest of the world is rather more sensible in realizing that part of naming a criminal adjudged guilty is to offer a societal deferrent against repeat criminal behavior.

The court heard from three witnesses — two men and a woman — who admitted to helping Jepsen install the malware of rival players’ computers. Jepsen’s malware gave him access to the hole cards of his selected opponents as he played them online, giving him an unbeatable edge.

The well-deserved jail sentence, however, is only part of the criminal penalty assessment. Jepsen’s true total theft amount will likely never be known, for various and sundry reasons. The evidence the Danish prosecutors acquired — and this was just from the handful of pros making the criminal complaints — showed thefts adding up to about 26.4 Danish krone, or about 3.5 million euros.

Of that amount, only one small share is confirmed to be refunded to an affected victim, and that’s for only DKK 800,000, or just 107,000 euros. Where the rest of Jepsen’s fine — assuming it can be collected, and that his appeal is denied — will end up remains unknown. The fact that the trial went to a conclusion without a guilty plea from Jepsen itself appears unusual, given both the trail of electronic evidence and the testimony of his collaborators and assistants. Such a demonstrated nonrepentance will likely seal Jepsen’s fate as a villain of the online poker age.

Then again, think about his victims; it’s a title this thief has richly earned.

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