Vera John Casino - Verification documents rejected due to unallowed method of concealing sensitive data

RESOLVED
Naomi Huxham United Kingdom
posted on September 9, 2016.

I am writing to complain about Vera&John's conduct, to highlight to others the contradictory, and bad advice provided to me by Vera&John's customer service. I have requested my issue to be escalated to management as an official complaint, in order for the issue to either be resolved from there, or for me to take further action using an intermediary; as I do not feel like my concerns over the security of my documents, their conduct and poor advice are being heard.

This has become a matter of principle for me; if I, (like other players), am going to agree and be bound by a set of terms and conditions when I sign up to a site (which I do), then I'm going to make sure I'm not dictated to by a completely different set of terms which I have not agreed upon.

This is a company making demands to me, whilst holding my withdrawals at ransom, which are not backed up by their own terms and requirements listed on site. In one of their replies they have tried to make out their request is a UKGC mandatory requirement - "We apologize if the mandatory process imposed by the UKGC has caused any inconvenience." - which is nonsense - that's the verification process itself, and not the format in which they are sent nor method used to conceal my sensitive data.

And just to confirm, I have absolutely no qualms regarding the UKGC's requirement to verify people, in fact I believe it should be done at the earliest opportunity, prior to any customers depositing at all (if they were actually looking after customers interests). The fact they have let me deposit several times still, since holding my withdrawals pending verification, is alarming at best, and criminal at worst. It's rather contradictory allowing players to deposit, but withholding withdrawals, breaking some code/ethics there surely. Surely any delays/issues regarding verification could mean that the person does not have the required information, which could mean their identity had been stolen, so why would a casino continue to let them deposit? I wonder what a governing bodies view would be on this potential 'security breach'? Is this legal?!

OK, here's some background info:

I was asked to:

"Simply reply to this email, enclosing:
1. A valid passport, ID or driving license (both sides).
2. A recent proof of Address, no older than 3 months, showing your name, current address and issue date.
3. Clear colour copies (both front and back side) of the debit/credit card ending with the numbers: **** & ****

*For your security, please hide:
The 6 middle digits of the card number (front and back). Example: 1234 56** **** 1234
The security code at the back of the card."

and I was linked here, to help prepare my documents - https:­//w­ww.v­er­ajo­hn.c­o.u­k/­abo­ut/kyc

Well, I provided clear, concise copies of:

1) My passport
2) A Gas statement dated from August 2016
3) Clear, colour copies of both sides of both of the debit cards I have registered on the account.

I took the photo's of all of the above using my phone. I then uploaded them to my PC, and concealed all of the sensitive data (as they suggest I do and as I would prior to sending documents to any other casino) using MS Paint, which is the only program I have available to open and save photo's in a format they accepted - I used the 'rectangle' shape drawer, filled with a solid colour to obscure my account details and card numbers, leaving all the data they requested, (in the exact same way that they demonstrate on their KYC page), saved the documents and sent them on.

I am happy for Askgamblers, or the UKGC to receive a copy of the email I sent them, complete with the attachments of my documents they received from me, showing just how clear and concise my documents are - I can also be independently verified via the electoral roll, as I have been here for six years.

I had the following reply to my verification email:

"We appreciate your swift cooperation in this matter, we will certainly review any submitted documents as soon as possible.

It appears the files have been edited with a sofware, perhaps opened and saved with an image editor; as a result, we are not able to accept these.
Please send new and unedited photograph directly to our support so that we may assist you accordingly."

So, I emailed them back, a bit ticked off, asking how I obscure my personal data in a secure way without using Paint - and how this advice contradicts the instructions on their KYC page which I followed to the letter.

The response:

"Thank you for your feedback, which I will make sure to escalate accordingly.

As advised previously, the quality of the documents is not the issue but rather the fact that these have been opened and edited with a software prior to being sent.
We apologize if the mandatory process imposed by the UKGC has caused any inconvenience.

To hide the personal informations such as the middle digits on the card, you are welcome to use a piece of paper for example.
The sooner we can receive unedited documents, the sooner we can complete the process."

I have since emailed again asking them to point me to the part of their terms and conditions, or their KYC instructional page which states I must obscure personal information using 'a piece of paper', because unless there's something in there (which there is not, I have since taken screenshots of the entire Terms page and the KYC page) which dictates which 'software' that can be used to obscure details, and having to obscure details using paper instead, when their own example photo clearly shows info being obscured in the same way - there's nothing there, then I don't think they have a leg to stand in.

They have already admitted there are no issues at all over the clarity of the documents, and they are being difficult for the sake of it, because when they have your money, they think they can do what they like. Well, casino's can not hide behind their terms anyway; half of their terms wouldn't stand up in a court of law, but they rarely let the customers case get that far, they just use scaremongering tactics to make you think you're in the wrong - but that is beside the point - and I'm happy to abide by all terms, (until I know they're falling on the wrong side of the law), but if they're not playing by their own rules, then I'll repeat, I'm certainly not going to be dictated to by a term that isn't there to begin with.

As a matter of principle, I have asked that if they can not quote the terms which I am not abiding to, then to escalate the issue at once to a manager and provide me with a complaints number, as I will feel much more secure now sending my documents to the Gambling Commission for them to review directly, instead. It's funny how they make you jump through hoops, and abide by all their terms, but they refuse to play by the same rules. I have never had documents rejected like this before, on the basis I have concealed personal data using MS Paint - I have done this with every document I have ever sent to any casino prior to this, and if this was an issue, they should surely state it in the section where they exclude the use of other formats and programs such as word and PDF files which they clearly state.

To summarise, I have provided exactly what they have asked for; abiding by all their terms and instructions on their own website. I have stated that no document has been edited, other than to conceal data, in an industry standard and accepted manner, abiding to the following terms listed on their KYC page:

"Please make sure that the quality of your documents is good and information easy to read.
Please be aware that we can’t accept documents which are:

• Black and white
• Photocopies or scans
• PDF files
• Word files
• Excel files
• not yours
• etc. you get the gist ;)
We only accept documents which are:

• Jpeg/Jpg files
• Bmp files
• Png files"

I really do not have anything further to say to Vera&John directly until they back down. If they insist on me providing something which is not requested nor backed up by their terms on site, then I will continue to insist that they play by their own rules and instead go through all the required dispute processes and take it from there.

I know my rights, Vera&John, and refuse to be bullied by you.

Should this issue be sorted in the meantime by Vera&John, I will update this complaint accordingly within 24 hours of receiving my funds.

AskGamblers
posted on September 11, 2016.

Dear @NCH1892,

Please make sure to update your complaint accordingly and clarify the total amount of the disputed withdrawal request/s.

Thank you for your cooperation.

posted on September 12, 2016.

Hi Naomi,

I will look into that case and will come back to you asap.

Best regards
Rupert
Vera&John

posted on September 14, 2016.

Hi Naomi,

We have reviewed your complaint internally between all relevant department managers and stand by the following:

Firstly, we want your account verification to be as easy and efficient as possible, however we are currently unable to complete the verification of your payment methods with the digitally altered documents you have sent us to date. We kindly ask you to simply send us new documents which have not been digitally altered, we can then complete the verification of these documents to the standards we hold in conjunction with the UKGCs KYC guidelines.
The verification of your account begins when you register, with age verification which confirms your identity, age and address. If you fail this, your account is closed immediately. However, you passed this first verification step and hence, why you were allowed to continue as an active player with Vera&John. We hope this clears up any alarms you have with our policy for allowing customers to play without full enhanced verification.
Whilst it is true that we have allowed you to process multiple deposits, we have also previously processed multiple withdrawals of yours, without any delay or demands. But upon this most recent withdrawal we have flagged a second credit card in use, which has caused for us to verify your account, to ensure there is no fraud:
“3.4
As required by our anti-money laundering obligations we reserve the right to raise queries regarding the source of any funds placed on deposit. Dumarca may, acting reasonably, suspend or terminate any Account where the response to such query/queries is not in its view satisfactory and/or may pass on such information as it deems necessary to any relevant authority.”
We cannot accept digitally altered credit card details for obvious reasons, and until we receive new documents we are unable to process your withdrawal or verify your account, which is in conjunction with our general terms and conditions:
“2.5
Upon registration a user might be requested to provide additional proof of identity by means of documents such as, but not limited to, National Identity Card, Passport or Driving Licence.
Failure to produce such documents may result in the temporarily suspension of the user account by Dumarca till the requested documents are provided and validated.”

The KYC information page is simply that, an information page, not a legal document to base disputes against. As you have stated, this is a matter of principle for you, so we kindly ask you to resend your documents without digital editing and we will continue your verification process and swiftly process your withdrawal once complete.

Kind regards,
Rupert
Vera&John

AskGamblers
posted on September 17, 2016.

Dear @NCH1892,

Please let us know if there's an update regarding your ongoing complaint. Please keep in mind that you are supposed to reply within the given 96-hours time frame, otherwise AskGamblers Complaints Team will consider the case as Resolved and it will be closed accordingly.

Thank you for your cooperation.