Fraud, Fantasy Football Style

Fantasy sports, and fantasy football in particular, are an ever-present aspect of today’s modern sports world. In fact, the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association – yes, there is such a thing – estimates that approximately 46 million Americans and Canadians participate in fantasy football, based on a 2017 survey. So how exactly did two otherwise anonymous participants of FF manage to game the system?

Introducing Tanner and Jade Tolbert, Z-List celebrities whose collective claim to fame to this point was being contestants on the reality show “Bachelor in Paradise.” Reports allege the couple colluded while partaking in DraftKings’ popular Millionaire Maker, a fantasy football contest wherein participants select a lineup of nine players at select positions from at least two games. As “luck” would have it, during the NFL’s wild card playoff round in early January, Jade happened to compile the top score among all participants, earning her the $1 million grand prize. Some lesser-known, albeit vigilant, participants smelled a rat and decided to do some investigation. Their work unveiled that not only did Jade and Tanner each enter the maximum amount of individual entries (150 lineups), but that no two lineups across the couple’s entries were the same. To other participants, this reeked of collusion.

DraftKings, to their credit, has been quick to respond, with CEO Jason Robins announcing one day after the event that the company has begun an investigation into the allegations. The company’s guidelines explicitly state that “Team-building complementary lineups which serve to work together AND executing a strategy that may create any unfair advantage over individual play” as well as “Entering the maximum number of entries in a contest, type of contest, or event, and having a 3rd party, regardless of their relationship, put in additional entries for you” both constitute unacceptable behavior. Whether in fact these guidelines were breached remains to be seen, but many will be looking to see if these minor “celebrities” indeed committed fraud, fantasy football style.

If you have any questions regarding potential fraud schemes or internal controls at your organization, please contact the Business Advisory group at Schneider Downs.

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