Card Player Magazine Employee Charged with Embezzling $1.1 Million

Shelby "Anna" McCann

Shelby McCann, known in the poker world as Anna McCann, is charged with embezzling roughly $1.1 million from Card Player magazine during her employment there as the company’s financial controller from 2011 to 2016.

The long-time financial controller for the venerable poker publication, Card Player magazine, has been charged in Nevada with two dozen felony counts of embezzlement related to her long-time work for the magazine. Shelby “Anna” McCann of Hawaii was charged on August 30 with the cumulative embezzlement of about $1.1 million while she was employed at Card Player from 2011 to 2016.

McCann was arrested in May in Hawaii and had been held there pending the completion of the initial investigation and the formal filing of charges in the Nevada District Court. The charges against McCann include felonies and gross misdemeanors, and she is believed to have been extradited to Las Vegas immediately upon filing of charges. Court records show that McCann was represented in absentia by a Nevada public defender and that bond was set at $50,000, pending her arrival and being formally taken into custody.

Records related to the indictment show that at least 11 separate exhibits (pieces of evidence related to the alleged embezzlement) have already been filed as part of the case.

“Black Friday” linked to case

According to several reports, McCann’s employment with Card Player Magazine began in September of 2011, just a few months after April 2011’s “Black Friday,” when American authorities targeted several prominent US-facing sites, including PokerStars, PartyPoker, UltimateBet, and Absolute Poker. Card Player had generated much of its revenue by serving as a prominent affiliate for those sites, and was the first “super affiliate” for UltimateBet, providing crucial support in that site’s 2003 launch.

The Black Friday crackdown heavily impacted Card Player’s revenue streams and the magazine’s corporate entity laid off as much as 90% of its existing staff, according to Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, Card Player’s corporate attorney and co-owner. During this massive layoff phase, McCann was hired, seemingly as a low-cost replacement for prior, pricier help.

McCann’s base pay may have been $37,000 a year, as implied by information published by her husband on a legal-defense GoFundMe blog (details below). However, according to the complaint and additional comments given to multiple outlets by Shulman, McCann began embezzling from the company virtually from her first weeks of employment. Jaffrey Shulman told Poker News that the actual amount stolen by McCann was closer to $1.4 million, though some of that may have been more closely linked to the magazine’s actual operations, and thus not a clearly chargeable violation.

However, alleged instances of McCann’s embezzlement as claimed by Jaffrey Shulman are distinctive. She told PN: “Employees tell me she would walk around the office saying, ‘Look how much my husband loves me,’ when she had actually sent the flowers to herself with our money. She wrote checks to herself, sent money to her husband, paid off four different credit cards, bought airline tickets, stole petty cash, bought clothes and other items and had them sent to her home, made large donations to one of her many GoFundMe accounts, and changed her salary every two weeks for five years.”

Exactly how a brand new employee, even in the role of financial controller, was given such unaudited, free reign over Card Player’s corporate accounts for five years has not been explained by the company’s representatives. Instead, the long-term theft was uncovered when the corporate coffers were found empty. “All of the sudden, there was no money to pay the bills,” Allyn Shulman told LVRJ. “This made us start thinking: What the heck is going on?”

The GoFundMe connections

McCann and her husband, Benjamin, had previously launched several public funding campaigns on sites such as YouCaring and GoFundMe. One of those was an adoption-related campaign that appears to have been the recipient of the alleged self-donation from Card Player’s coffers, reportedly for $22,000.

A separate GoFundMe campaign was launched by McCann’s husband earlier this year following her arrest by authorities in Hawaii. That effort, called “Anna’s Legal Defense Fund,” raised only $468 of a hoped-for $20,000 goal before being closed after Nevada prosecutors announced the charges.

Whether that campaign was closed by the McCanns or by GoFundMe remains unclear. However, before it was shuttered, the campaign offered this brief statement about McCain’s legal position and claims of innocence, as she waited for the formal indictment in Nevada:

“The charges against her are so over the top it’s absurd. Without giving too much detail, they reported to police that every dime she made there over a base $37k/year salary was fraudulent and unauthorized. Anna had worked for 2 law firms in CA in the capacity as a controller/ Accountant before this employer. She was bonded in both CA and NV.

“This is vindictive retaliation, and I am fully motivated to defend Anna and punish the individuals responsible for inflicting this type of harm to her and our family.

“But I need help. This is entertainment to her accusers, and they have deep pockets. My initial goal is to cover her bail bond and to provide a retainer to a defense attorney.

“I don’t know when or what the end scenario is for this situation, but I refuse to allow a couple of rich assholes use the criminal justice system to cause harm and provide themselves entertainment.

“Currently Anna can do nothing but sit in jail here in Hawaii. 2 separate attorneys have informed me that I can’t even get a hearing for bail reduction or to throw the case out until she is moved to Nevada. Best case scenario right now is she sits in jail for another 35 days or so because Nevada decides to not come pick her up.

“Personally, I hope this speeds up, and we get a chance in court. I personally am looking forward to ripping a Metro detective’s lazy investigative skills apart and calling out some professional liars in front of a judge.”