Federal prosecutors in Seattle have moved to seize $553,000 from a Canadian company they say is facilitating payments to online poker players.

In a civil complaint filed earlier this month, prosecutors asked a U.S. District Court judge to order the balance of six bank accounts associated with the service be forfeited to the government.

Prosecutors claim the service, identified in court documents as Secure Money, Inc., sent payments to Washington poker players using online gambling sites in violation of state law.

In essence, prosecutors contend Secure Money, Inc., paid out poker players after they won money playing online. The checks labeled as “payroll” payments, according to the complaint, were mailed to players.

Court documents identify seven Washington residents alleged to have received payments through Secure Money, Inc. An undercover agent gambling at UltimateBet.com was also paid through the service, prosecutors claim.

“Secure Money, Inc. distributed checks on behalf of illegal websites that host gambling activity,” an Assistant U.S. Attorney said in a civil complaint filed earlier this month. “Processing checks that represent the funds derived from illegal gambling … constitutes a violation of the money laundering provisions” set in federal law.

In January 2009, an agent with the state Gambling Commission began playing online poker through the Ultimate Bet website. In July, he requested the company pay out $200 banked from an undercover account.

The agent received a check cut from an account held by Secure Money, Inc., apparently a Canadian company doing business in Las Vegas, Nev., and Tampa, Fla., according to the complaint.

Bank records seized by investigators showed that more than $5,500 checks had been issued from the Secure Money, Inc. account between June 2009 and January, totaling $2.7 million. The memo line on each listed “payroll” as the reason for payment.

Investigators contend Secure Money, Inc., was operating as a money transfer business without the licenses required by Nevada and Florida state law, according to the civil complaint.

The complaint details millions of dollars in transactions between banks associated with Secure Money, Inc. According to the complaint, investigators have determined checks cut from Secure Money, Inc. accounts at several banks were sent to Washington residents.

The move follows a Sept. 23 decision by the state Supreme Court that found the state’s ban on online gambling did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Hearing a lawsuit by a Washington online poker player, the state’s high court heard argument that the Legislature violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution when it enacted a ban on Internet gambling.

Opponents of the ban have said they will take the case to the federal courts, and pursue it to the U.S. Supreme Court if possible.

The court’s ruling bolsters the state ban, which was made law in 2006 following a boom in Internet poker.

A seizure warrant has since been issued in the case. It does not appear that criminal charges have been filed.

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