A Brief Look at Crime 08/15 – 08/21

Newcastle facebook fraud fiend is jailed

CYBER schemer Iain Wood created virtual identities of his neighbours to hack their bank accounts and use their savings to bankroll his gambling addiction.  He targeted those who lived in the same North block of flats as him in a complex fraud the kind of which a veteran judge confessed he had never come across before.  Wood even befriended his targets on social networking sites such as Facebook where he would spend up to 18 hours in order to harvest as much personal information about them as possible.  He then stole their utility bills to build up a bank of information about them.  With this detail he was able to steal their identities and then used their personal details to get past security checks and hack into their bank accounts.  Once there he ordered new bank cards which he used to withdraw more than £35,000 over the next two years which he blew on gambling.

 Lawyer’s License on Ice; Found to Have Helped Client Bookie Run Illegal Gambling Business

A Massachusetts attorney has had his law license indefinitely suspended after he allegedly helped a client bookmaker run an illegal gambling business from the basement of his home, reports the Legal Profession Blog. The suspension for Mark James O’Connor, who is also accused of earning a 10 percent commission by helping a friend with an out-of-state business obtain $700,000 to $800,000 in cash in a “structuring” scheme that circumvented bank reporting laws, took effect on Aug. 10. A state Board of Bar Overseers opinion summary of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruling in the Suffolk County case provides further details.

 Va. Gang Task Force Busts Dragon Family Gambling Ring

Dozens of law enforcement officers busted an illegal gambling ring in Falls Church, Va., seizing more than $1 million in cash and arresting members of a Vietnamese-American gang.  Falls Church police learned late last fall that the Dragon Family gang was running a sophisticated gambling operation out of a local shopping center — hidden in plain sight. Gamblers who lost $100,000 to the gang over the course of a year complained to police, so they called the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force for help. The gambling ring operated out of 13 small coffee shops with names like the HA Cafe and Cafe VV, police said. All were in the Eden Center, a shopping mecca for the local Vietnamese community.

 FORMER GRANITE FALLS TOP COP TO DO PRISON STINT FOR EMBEZZLEMENT

Former Granite Falls Police Chief Charles Allen is headed to the place he helped send many a man over a long career in law enforcement: to prison.  On Friday Allen was sentenced to five years behind bars for embezzling more than half a million dollars in social security money from poor people, disabled people and the mentally ill. Prosecutors estimated Allen stole more than $600,000 that he used for gambling, alimony payments and various other personal reasons.

 Indictment charges gambler of scamming charities, non-profits

Charities and non-profit organizations that benefit schoolchildren and support people with life-threatening illnesses lost $768,000 to a compulsive gambler who promised them several rounds at the Augusta National Golf Course, a walk-on role on “Desperate Housewives,” and tickets to the Tony Awards but never delivered, an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Newark today charges. After the winning bidders made their pledges and he received his commissions, 34-year-old Gregory Ciccone of Woodland Park tried to stall them — including once telling a winning bidder that the 2009 Tour de France had been postponed, federal authorities said. Ciccone used the ill-gotten gains, in part, to feed a gambling habit, they said.

 Georgia launches crackdown on online gambling

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal ordered state authorities to crack down on illegal gambling dens masquerading as Internet cafes on Thursday amid fears that the firms are planning a “massive expansion” into the state with hundreds of new outlets. About 50 to 100 active gambling sites have already set up shop in Georgia, and Deal said investigators believe Internet sweepstakes parlors are eyeing hundreds more locations throughout the state. They are laying the groundwork for the move, he said, by challenging local prosecutors in each district with a flawed interpretation of state law. “Over the past several months there has been a strategic campaign of disinformation regarding this issue,” said Deal, who was joined by Attorney General Sam Olens and other law enforcement officials. “Today we are here united to send a clear message that we don’t want this industry here in the state of Georgia, and I’m directing the state’s resources to eliminate it from our communities.”

 Former hospital employee charged with embezzlement

A former employee of St. Vincent Healthcare has been charged with embezzling more than $55,000 from the hospital. According to court records, Nieder began working at the hospital in 1979 and was eventually promoted to office coordinator for St. Vincent Healthcare’s Occupational Health division. In that job, Nieder was responsible for administering contracts between the hospital and its clients, made banking deposits and had full access to the computer billing system. Nieder was interviewed by a police detective in February and allegedly admitted to using the money to support a gambling habit.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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