The world of sports handicapping is dirty. That's begrudgingly accepted. But it's dirty enough without CNBC giving the sort of exposure money can't buy to a convicted felon operating under a fake name.
Meet "Steve Stevens," who runs VIP Sports in Las Vegas.
This weekend, CNBC announced a new reality show debuting in September, tracking Stevens and his company.
“Money Talks” is a docu-soap that follows Steve Stevens, his stable of agents and the clients who risk big dollars in the hope these guys have the expertise to consistently deliver winners. There’s a lot on the line as we follow the gamblers who wager a few thousand each week to the whales who routinely make six-figure bets.
Almost immediately, the sports betting community raised a stink. For one, the 71.5 percent hit rate Stevens promises is a mathematical impossibility. He's "a complete scam artist," says Bob Voulgaris, one of the biggest names in NBA betting. For another: no one's heard of Steve Stevens. Todd Fuhrman, a former oddsmaker at Caesar's Palace, writes that "no one, and I mean no one, in the sports betting community I speak with daily knows who this guy is."
But the hammer blow was landed by our friends at Wager Minds, who dug deep into his background and discovered that Steve Stevens is actually a man named Darin Notaro.
The evidence is damning. Photos of Stevens and Notaro appear to show the same person. Stevens's VIP Sports office is identical to a building registered as the address of Executive VIP Services International, a company owned and operated by Notaro. VIP Sports's sales board shows the company's top salesman is named "Darin."
So who is Darin Notaro?
District Judge Sally Loehrer Tuesday sentenced Darin Notaro, 25, to one year in jail for his part in a Las Vegas telemarketing scheme that bilked elderly citizens across the nation out of at least $234,000.
Notaro, who was also ordered to make $12,230 in restitution, is one of six men charged in connection with their work for Century Pacific Group, a boiler room that telephoned elderly people and told them they won valuable sweepstakes prizes, but they had to pay $699 to get the prize.
At the time of his arrest, Notaro was on probation for conviction of six federal felony counts of telemarketing fraud by wire. For those 1995 offenses, he was ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution, fined $3,100 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
Investigators for the Nevada attorney general's office have arrested a man in connection with a telemarketing scheme targeting out-of-state elderly people.
Darin Notaro, 27, was arrested Friday after people were called and told that they had won a sweepstakes grand prize. Authorities said the victims were told that they had to make an income tax payment via Western Union before they could pick up their prize, authorities said.
So! CNBC has ordered an entire series that will presumably glamorize a thrice-arrested scammer who promises clients a return that can't mathematically be achieved. And what, pray tell, is CNBC's reaction to the uproar?
We are aware of Steve Stevens’ 1999 conviction and while we are very clear in the press release that VIP Sports clients risk big dollars in the hopes that Stevens and his agents have the expertise to consistently deliver winners, viewers should tune in on September 10th at 10pm ET/PT to draw their own conclusions about VIP Sports. We are merely betting that viewers will be interested in the world of touts and handicappers and in no way endorse either Stevens’ picks or his business model.
We shouldn't be surprised. A large chunk of CNBC's programming is already devoted to people promising to make you rich playing the stock market. That's an older and bigger scam than handicapping.