Accused of 'scamming' in a Reddit thread, CS:GO streamer Phantoml0rd threatens to sue moderators

James "Phantoml0rd" Varga, who earlier this year sued Twitch over a suspension of his account in 2016 and was then counter-sued in turn, is now threatening legal action against the moderators of the LivestreamFail subreddit. The cause of his consternation is a thread alleging that he and Victoria "Dinglederper" Weeks, his former girlfriend, are "back to scamming" people with something called VGO skins. 

Varga was suspended from Twitch in 2016 over his association with skin gambling site CSGOShuffle, which he heavily promoted on his channel without disclosing the fact that he allegedly owned it. Shortly thereafter, Valve issued a cease-and-desist order against more than 20 CS:GO skin gambling sites; more recently it imposed new cooldown rules on trading to help reduce the incidence of fraud.

From those chaotic fires, VGO skins were born as a kind of workaround: "Blockchain-based items, designed for collecting and trading, that are not subject to any trade restrictions or bans," as skins marketplace OPSkins described them. "VGO items are designed to mimic the trading experience of popular games, but without onerous trading restrictions or fear of bannings." 

They accomplish that feat by looking like, but not actually being, skins at all. As one esports journalist explained, they're akin to a photograph of a rare baseball card: The picture is the same, but the items themselves are very different and only one of them is actually worth anything. 

Nonetheless, there is a push to give them value through online markets like VGOUnbox. Varga enthusiastically promotes the site on Twitter and on livestreams.

That could be excused as a slip of the tongue, but VGO skins were recently added to the OPSkins marketplace, another site Varga is allegedly connected to, and which gambling sites have used in the past to cash out skins. It has a dodgy history of its own through its connection to former CSGO Lotto co-owners Trevor "Tmartn" Martin and Thomas "Syndicate" Cassell, who were censured by the FTC last year after promoting the skin gambling site without disclosing that they owned it. 

That relationship was referenced in a separate video by Varga's former partner Weeks: 

That's what led to the post on Reddit, entitled, "Dinglederper back to scamming with phantoml0rd," which sparked Varga's legal threat. "This message is to inform you and your moderation staff to Cease and Desist any further allowance of harassment," it says, citing the "do not threaten, harass, or bully" policy in Reddit's terms of service. "Any further allowance of this point or posts like this will result in legal action that will involve your moderation team and reddit staff for allowing this post to exist." 

The moderators responded with an "open letter" stating that one post about Varga's new gambling site does not qualify as "systemic or continued actions," and that it's unlikely to put him in fear for his life because no real-life information is included. It invited him to reach out if he does see any personally identifiable information posted or experiences threats against his person as a result, but added that Reddit adminstrators would be the proper people to contact if he has "actual, legitimate concerns" about the legality of the post. 

"The /r/LivestreamFail mods would suggest to you, PhantomL0rd, that if you wish to pursue your business ventures free of judgement from the greater reddit community, or the community of /r/LivestreamFail specifically, that you don’t stream yourself interacting with your gambling site directly," the mods wrote. 

Varga hasn't yet indicated whether he will actually follow through on his threat, but the moderators clearly aren't too concerned about it: They even gave him a little bit of sideways legal advice by indirectly suggesting that he could cite the post as libel, as FSLabs has apparently done in response to posts about its A320-X expansion for Flight Simulator X. "Perhaps you don’t think the claim that you’re creating another site meant to scam users is a false one," they wrote.   

I've reached out to Varga for more information, and will update if I receive a reply. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.