Brief Look at Crime 09/14 – 09/20

Wedding planner fraudster who conned more than 100 brides-to-be out of £120,000 to fund her gambling

Sarah Cawthorne, 32, left more than 100 women in the lurch after taking their deposits and then failing to turn up on the day of their weddings. Through her company, A Little Bit of Bling, she promised to provide chocolate fountains, dance floors and canopies to brides. Instead, the mother-of-two, from Dudley, West Midlands, used their money to fund a gambling addiction and took her family to Disney Land in Florida. The unhappy customers reported her to Dudley Trading Standards and Cawthorne was sentenced to 12 months behind bars in April after being charged with fraudulent trading. The court heard that analysis of bank statements showed that Cawthorne frittered away some of her customers’ money on online betting sites. In one month, July 2013, she made 118 cash transfers to one gambling site. Her solicitor, Mukhtar Ubhi, told the court that his client had been suffering from a gambling addiction combined with depression but that she had never set out to con her clients.

Police Seize 200 Video Gambling Devices, $390,000+ In Pennsylvania Raids 

Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and Bureau of Criminal Investigations served search warrants on 39 liquor-licensed establishments here, confiscating illegal gambling machines and cash. Part of a nine-month investigation, the seizure in early August netted 178 video gambling devices and $389,214. According to sources, every seized machine was designed and operated in such a fashion as to render it illegal in any venue in North America. The equipment’s design characteristics made them unlawful to operate even in jurisdictions and venues in which video gambling is permitted by statute and license, officials observed.

Monk accused of looting temple of $150K for blackjack addiction 

Nothing disrupts Zen tranquility like a federal embezzling rap. A blackjack-addicted Buddhist monk from Louisiana was arrested at LaGuardia Airport and charged with looting his own temple of roughly $150,000 to fund weekly casino binges, The Post has learned. Khang Le, the top monk at the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Lafayette, Louisiana, appeared in full religious garb Monday in Brooklyn federal court and will likely be sent back to his home state to face the federal raps. Investigators said that Le developed a burgeoning blackjack infatuation beginning in 2011 and began making secret visits to the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles. “Le stated he started to gamble in 2011 or 2012 and would spend between $5,000 and $10,000 every two of three days at the casino playing blackjack,” court papers reveal of an interview with Le conducted by a federal agent in 2014. “Le admitted to having a gambling problem and admitted that he was utilizing Temple funds to gamble.”

Criminals are hacking into gambling accounts to see player’s hands before

Gamblers are being warned about a online poker scam that lets criminals cheat their way to winning games. Hackers are using spyware to sneak a look at a player’s virtual poker hand on popular gambling sites. They are then signing into the same game and betting against their victim to up the stakes and steal their money. The scam was spotted by San Diego-based security experts at Eset and it affects people who have accounts on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. As of 16 September, ‘several hundred’ users have been infected with Win32/Spy.Odlanor, said Eset.

Daughter gambled stolen £150k in desperate bid to save family firm – but lost it all

Jane Speller, of Mallow Close, Broadstone, began to swindle cash from Poole company Zenick in 2011 after the recession affected profits. She then turned to online gambling sites in an attempt to pour funding back into the pallet supply business. But her plan backfired and she lost a total of £172,217. On August 24, the 38-year-old appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court, where a judge heard she had fallen into a “dark black hole of depression” as a result. She admitted fraud by abuse of position at an earlier hearing.

Thieving nephew stole his 86-year-old aunt’s £330,000 life savings and blew it on fruit machines 

A 54-year-old man who stole £330,000 from his aunt to fund his gambling addiction has been jailed. Ian Stanworth was given power of attorney over 86-year-old Vera Banks’ finances when she moved into the Golden Years Care Home in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 2007. Over seven years, Stanworth abused his position to swindle money from two of Mrs Banks’ savings accounts and an ISA, as well as pocketing the proceeds from the sale of her home. He used the cash to pay off business expenses and feed his addiction to fruit machines. The theft was only uncovered last year when Mrs Banks had a cheque returned due to insufficient funds.

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

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