Well, that was your first mistake
This is a lesson about not letting anyone use your online gambling accounts, or anything connected to your financial accounts, for that matter. As reported by the Naples Daily News, Andrew Moste filed a lawsuit in Collier County (Florida) Circuit Court earlier this year against Oakes Farms, company owner Alfie Oakes, and vice president Steven Veneziano for using Moste’s daily fantasy sports account, winning money, and leaving most with the tax bill. The suit accuses the defendants of conversion and unjust enrichment of money.
Moste began work at Oakes Farms as an independent contractor in 2018. Not long thereafter, Veneziano asked Moste if he could use his DraftKings account. Feeling pressure to please the top brass, Moste agreed, not knowing at the time that Veneziano had previously been banned from the DFS site.
Veneziano moved large sums of money in and out of the account, which was linked to Moste’s own bank account. After a few weeks, Moste told Veneziano to stop using the account. It occurred to him that there could be tax problems, so he texted Veneziano about it, to which Veneziano replied, “We’ll be good my guy says no worries…I would never screw you. Not spending all the money.”
The bank transactions stopped, but that didn’t mean that Veneziano was off Moste’s DraftKings account. Instead, Veneziano had simply linked an Oakes Farms bank account to keep playing. At the end of 2018, Moste received a tax form indicating that he (actually Veneziano, of course) had won $216,000, $181,000 of which was earned after Veneziano told him he would stop.
Moste’s accountant said that his tax bill would be $93,000.
Solution: tax fraud?
Moste said that Veneziano told him on several occasions that he would pay him for the taxes, but he never came through. He did try to come up with workarounds in the form of tax fraud, though. He gave Moste a box of losing scratch-off lottery tickets, telling Moste that he could claim them as gambling losses to cancel out the DraftKings winnings. Moste rightly refused.
Veneziano then spoke with Oakes, who told Moste not to include the winnings on his tax return. If he got audited, Oakes would write him a check every year for seven years to cover the taxes. Moste declined this scheme, too.
That Oakes and his close employs would look to circumvent the law likely doesn’t come as a surprise to Naples locals. Oakes, owner of Oakes Farms, Seed to Table and Food and Thought, has called COVID-19 a “hoax,” openly flaunting Collier County’s mask mandate at his places of business. This in a state with over a million confirmed cases and a seven-day moving average of around 100 deaths.
Naturally, Veneziano and Oakes deny any wrongdoing and say that Moste is making things up.
“Plaintiff has also changed his story multiple times to manufacture a false monetary claim against the defendants that is in fact meritless,” Veneziano said.
Steven Bracci, the defendants’ attorney, called Moste a “disgruntled former independent contractor of Oakes Farms.”
Moste is seeking a jury trial and $181,000 in damages.