Brief Look at Crime 12/09 – 12/15

Computer hacker stole virtual property from online fantasy gamers to pay off REAL gambling debts

A computer hacker has been spared jail after selling virtual items he had stolen breaking into the accounts of fantasy game players. Steven Burrell, from Northampton, spent 16 months hacking profiles on RuneScape, an online game where more than 200 million players live in a medieval fantasy world and collect armour and food. The 21-year-old accessed accounts almost 4,000 times, using the money he made to pay off his gambling debts, Northampton Magistrates’ Court was told. Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard Burrell sold his victims’ virtual items on auction sites and forums to raise up to £3,000. Many of his victims complained to the game’s developer, Jagex – taking up 1,000 hours of the company’s time.  Yet Burrell was charged with hacking, not theft, because the items he stole existed in a fantasy world. He added: ‘He is a normal, rational human being, whose course of conduct has clearly caused a lot of trouble. ‘He used a fantasy world to try to deal with problems in the real world, which were financial and related to gambling.

Man who staged own kidnapping nabbed

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 8, 2013): A 28-year-old jobless man who cleaned out his mother’s life savings, staged his own kidnapping and demanded money from her for his release, was nabbed by police. The man, who is believed to have a gambling addiction had telephoned his mother in Taman Desa Jaya, Kepong on Thursday and claimed he was abducted by four men. He told his mother that he was confined at an unknown location and that his abductors wanted RM25,000 for his release. As she did not have the money needed for her son’s release, she alerted the police. On Friday, after gathering information, the police tracked down the man to a casino in Genting Highlands. “He was having a jolly good time gambling at a casino there when we arrested him. Further investigations revealed that his mother gave him thousands of ringgit from her savings after he told her he wanted to start a business but he used it up for gambling,” Gombak police chief ACP Abdul Rahim Abdullah told theSun today. He said the suspect also led police to a hotel room at the resort where they detained his 37-year-old male friend who had allegedly aided him in pulling off the ruse.

Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Role In Stamford Gambling Ring

A Florida man has pleaded guilty to money laundering and operating an illegal gambling business in connection with a large-scale, Internet-based sports bookmaking operation based in Stamford.  Craig Caffro, 48, pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith in Hartford, Acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly announced. As part of his guilty plea, Caffro has agreed to forfeit $50,000. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 26.  According to court documents and statements made in court, Caffro and 19 others were charged with various offenses related to their involvement in multiple illegal gambling businesses in southern Connecticut controlled by the Gambino organized crime family, including the Stamford operation.The investigation, which included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, revealed that Dean DePreta led the operation in which gamblers placed bets with offshore sports-gambling websites. Caffro served as the point person for the website and received regular payments from DePreta and co-defendant Richard Uva, both of Stamford, for its use. At Caffro’s direction, one of these payments was laundered through the bank account of the elderly mother of one of his associates living in New Jersey. FBI analysis determined that the total gross revenue of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011. As of this date, 19 defendants have agreed to forfeit $1.5 million in illegal proceeds.

Govt enabling money laundering in SkyCity Casino

Today’s revelations that SkyCity Casino is caught up in an alleged international crime syndicate comes as no surprise given the Government’s inaction over money laundering in casinos, the Green Party said today. “Casinos are an engine of crime, so it’s not surprising that another money laundering ring has been exposed at SkyCity Casino,” said Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche. “It is the latest in a growing body of evidence that SkyCity profits from the proceeds of crime. When money is laundered through their casino, SkyCity profits from the business and they should have to give it back. “The National Government’s cosy deal with SkyCity is enabling this to happen by making money laundering that much easier. We’re going to see a lot more of this happening.” Included in the list of gambling concessions gifted to SkyCity Casino in their agreement with the Government to build a convention centre is an increase in ‘ticket-in, ticket-out technology’ and machines that can accept denominations of $20 and higher. Both of these concessions are linked to increased problem gambling and money laundering. “Ticket-in, ticket-out technology is one of the best ways to increase money laundering. It enables anonymous gambling, which makes problem gambling easier and is directly linked to money laundering overseas,” said Ms Roche.

Father and son in Penn Hills arrested again in theft by deception

A father and son duo in Penn Hills stole $580,000 from a Texas-based customer after failing to deliver promised electronics while pocketing the advance payment, court records show. Joseph Kocott Sr., 44, and Joseph Kocott Jr., 25, both of Penn Hills agreed to provide thousands of television converter boxes to MP Instruments Inc. for $580,000, according to criminal complaints filed by Jackelyn Weibel of the Allegheny County district attorney’s office detectives. When the March 5, 2010, delivery date was missed, MP Instruments Inc. vice president Joey Pate demanded a refund, Ms. Weibel wrote. A search of the account to which the money had been wired, which was owned by Mr. Kocott Jr., showed the sum had been transferred into an account owned by Mr. Kocott, Sr. and written out in checks payable to cash. After a series of checks were written, $3 of the payment remained in Mr. Kocott Jr.’s account. The father and son were each charged Friday with felony counts of theft by deception, receiving stolen property and conspiracy and were released on their own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 30. In August, they surrendered on charges that they stole more than $100,000 from a local company to support the father’s gambling habit.

Savannah casino boat investigation uncovers $1 million in illegal gambling

A joint-investigation of a Savannah River casino boat uncovered more than $1 million in illegal proceeds, authorities reported. The investigation, which involved federal and local law enforcement agencies, targeted gambling aboard the Diamond Casino Cruise. Three men were indicted by a federal grand jury and reportedly pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling businesses. In June, Gregory Sicilia was sentenced to five years probation, six months home confinement with electronic monitoring, 40 hours of community service and a $100 special assessment. Following a tip from the Coast Guard, investigators found the casino boat had violated gambling laws, which require such vessels to conduct gambling at least 12 miles from shore in international waters. The Diamond Casino Cruise had allegedly operated slot machines and table games just off shore and sometimes while barely away from the dock, according to the ICE Homeland Security Investigations. Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Georgia and the Carolinas, said operators of the casino boat “flaunted” their enterprise.

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

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