How a Bookmaker and a Whiz Kid Took On an Extortionist - and Won
January 5, 2005
Facing an online extortion threat, Mickey Richardson bet his Web-based business on a networking whiz from Sacramento who first beat back the bad guys, then helped the cops nab them. If you collect revenue online, you'd better read this.
The e-mail began, "Your site is under attack," and it gave Mickey Richardson two choices: "You can send us $40K by Western Union [and] your site will be protected not just this weekend but for the next 12 months," or, "If you choose not to pay...you will be under attack each weekend for the next 20 weeks, or until you close your doors." Richardson runs BetCris.com, an online wagering site, one of hundreds of sites ensconced in Costa Rica that take bets from Americans (and others around the world) without concern for U.S. bookmaking laws. Richardson received the e-mail just as he and his competitors were preparing for the year's busiest wagering season. With pro and college football, pro and college basketball and other sports in full swing, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas about to create plenty of free time, BetCris and the others stood to rake in millions over the holidays. Richardson was even planning an advertising blitz for the season to drive new traffic to his site.