Lena Evans Files Class Action Lawsuit Against PayPal

A class action lawsuit accusing digital payment processor PayPal of racketeering for seizing customer funds was filed Friday in California.

Lena Evans is a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging PayPal unlawfully seized customer funds. (Picture: WSOP)

Two-time WSOP Tour winner Lena Evans, founder of the non-profit Poker League of Nations (PLON) and CEO of poker tournament organizer Helix Poker, is the lead complainant among three people who claim PayPal stole their silver.

The lawsuit accuses PayPal of using its user agreement policies to arbitrarily freeze and then seize money from accounts for violations that are never clearly explained.

Bensamochan Law Firm and Schreiber & Schreiber filed suit in United States District Court, Northern District of California. Businessmen Roni Shemtov and Shbadan Akylbekov are the other two plaintiffs.

Shemtov had seized $42,737 and Akylbekov, $172,206. The lawsuit seeks triple damages.

Freezing and seizing without warning

In Evan’s situation, the lawsuit alleges that PayPal froze $26,984 for 180 days without warning or explanation in November 2020. She used PayPal to help run both PLON and Helix Poker, as well as sell and buy clothes.

In May 2021, PayPal seized the money “without ever telling Ms. Evans why,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims she never received a response to any of her emails and was unable to speak with a live person despite multiple phone calls.

Although Evans received no sort of explanation for his predicament, PayPal told the other two complainants that the money was seized because they violated parts of its Acceptable Use Policy which is part of its long user agreement, according to the lawsuit.

The claims of the multi-faceted 37-page complaint are summarized by one line from the filing:

“PayPal’s transactions and practices are illegal, highly questionable and amount to outright theft.”

Triggered by Chris Moneymaker

Around the same time that Evans had his money seized by PayPal, the same thing happened to Chris Moneymaker, 2003 WSOP champion and current Team Americas Card Room pro.

By only telling Moneymaker that he violated the terms of the payment site, they seized over $12,000. Much like Evans, funds were frozen in the fall after members of his fantasy football league sent their $1,000 fee to Moneymaker, who acted as the league’s treasurer.

Then 180 days later, PayPal drained his account.

This infuriated Moneymaker, who hired law firm Bensamochan to sue PayPal and encouraged anyone else whose money was seized by the eBay-owned company to come on board.

PayPal legal officials must have noticed, because 10 days after the Tweet was sent encouraging others who may have been treated badly by the processing giant to contact their attorney, the money simply reappeared on his account.

Since he got his money back, Moneymaker is no longer a civil party in the case. But that does not prevent him from trying to repair this misperception.

Pinned on his Twitter since June 17, 2021:

His mentions are loaded with people claiming that PayPal treated them the same way and seized funds for violating parts of the Terms of Service.

Eric Bensamochan, the lead attorney, was unavailable for comment.

The lawsuit claims there are likely thousands of victims entitled to compensation from PayPal, but plaintiffs cannot know for certain the potential size of the class without information and documents in PayPal’s possession.

How many others have been affected?

While Moneymaker and Evans are connected to the world of gambling and poker, Shemtov and Akylbekov are businessmen who claim PayPal stole the money they earned from selling merchandise.

In Shemotov’s case, she was told three different reasons her money had been seized, including that she charged too little for her yoga clothes.

The other two reasons they gave — that she was using the same IP address as other users and that she had multiple accounts — are simply false, according to the lawsuit.

In Akylbekov’s case, PayPal said it was authorized to seize and retain the money for damages caused by violating parts of the Terms of Service, which were not defined.

The three plaintiffs explain how PayPal simply ignored their questions and concerns, some of which were submitted in writing to the company’s attorneys.

With over 300 million users and more than 20 million active merchant accounts, the chances that PayPal will treat other customers in the manner alleged by this lawsuit are high.

Written by

Bob Pajich

Bob Pajich is a poker journalist, creative writer, and poker player who has never encountered any suited connectors he doesn’t like.

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