The figure at the center of an upcoming cable reality show is attracting a lot of attention, and much of it is negative. Business Insider reports that Steve Stevens, who stars in CNBC’s new show "Money Talks," appears to have a shady past.
Stevens runs a business that sells sports betting picks and is described by the network in a press release issued over the weekend as a "well-known handicapper." But Stevens "is being called a fraud and an ex-convict by some of the most prominent people in the sports betting world today," the story reports.
A report from a site called WagerMinds questions the identity of Stevens, noting that it has never heard of him even though "we’ve covered the sports betting industry for years." Experts have also called into question Stevens’ claim that he has a 71.5% success rate at picking games, which WagerMinds says has the impossible odds of "one trillion to 1."
Business Insider adds that the "70% claim was a red flag for a lot of sports betting folks," adding that NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris, who is described by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver as the best sports bettor in the world, only wins about 57% of his bets.
Stevens’ company VIP Sports Las Vegas has its domain name registered to a man called Darin Notaro, who allegedly is on probation for six federal felony counts of telemarketing fraud by wire going back to 1999, the story says.
Reports suggest that Stevens and Notaro are the same person, and a statement from a CNBC spokesman, published by Business Insider, appears to confirm that suggestion. Here’s the full statement:
"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."