A Brief Look at Crime 07/10 – 07/16

Fake online stores reveal gamblers’ shadow banking system

A network of dummy online stores offering household goods has been used as a front for internet gambling payments, a Reuters examination has found. The seven sites, operated out of Europe, purport to sell items including fabric, DVD cases, maps, gift wrap, mechanical tape, pin badges and flags. In fact, they are fake outlets, part of a multinational system to disguise payments for the $40 billion global online gambling industry, which is illegal in many countries and some U.S. states. The findings raise questions about how e-commerce is policed worldwide. They also underline a strategy which fraud specialists say regulators, card issuers and banks have yet to tackle head-on. That strategy is “transaction laundering” – when one online merchant processes payment card transactions on behalf of another, which can help disguise the true nature of payments. The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans. Categorising a gambling transaction as a purchase of something else is against the rules of card issuers including Visa and Mastercard, the card companies said in response to Reuters’ findings. “Transaction laundering is serious misconduct – often criminal,” said Dan Frechtling, head of product at G2 Web Services, a financial compliance company which works with leading banks and card issuers. “It violates the merchant’s agreement with its acquirer, allows prohibited goods and services to enter the payment system, and may flout anti-money laundering laws.”

Charming con man embezzled millions from trusting victims

Financial advisor Conrad Eagan was charming and almost like one of the family, according to the relatives of one of his clients who gathered in an Ottawa courtroom Thursday. But it was his nice guy routine that allowed him to swindle approximately $3.45 million from the elderly, pocketing money they had saved through their own hard work and perseverance to sate what one of his victims described as his “uncontrollable greed.” Court heard after Eagan convinced his clients to set up wills that would keep their inheritance in trust and pay out the beneficiaries, only 10 per cent of them invested assets annually. Since Eagan also ensured he was the executor, it gave him access to the estate accounts. Eagan’s lawyer, Oliver Abergel, explained that the fraud was partially the result of his client’s gambling problem. “What I did is inexcusable. It was cruel. People trusted me, I let them down,” said Eagan. “I’m sorry, and it’s not sorry for being caught. I did such a stupid thing.”

Woman stole £150k from vulnerable pensioner and spent it on gambling and holidays

A fraudster left a vulnerable pensioner penniless after fleecing her out of more than £150,000 which she blew on gambling, holidays and jewellery. Heartless Lynn Minrath befriended the woman and then took increasing control over her finances. Prosecutor David Bright said: “This is, in essence, a fraud case, a particularly mean one. “It is the tale of a dishonest younger woman taking financial advantage of a woman in her 70s.” Mr Bright said that in 2014 the pensioner had in excess of £250,000, mainly from the proceeds of the sale of her home in London prior to her moving in with her brother in Rugby. When Mr Bright put to her that she was gambling “thousands of pounds” of the pensioner’s money, she replied: “With her consent, and with her wishes.” She accepted she had carried on until the pensioner’s accounts had been emptied, but denied Mr Bright’s suggestion that she was “a thoroughly dishonest woman”. The court heard that in 2013, Minrath, whose victim has been reimbursed by around £130,000 by her bank, had been jailed for thefts and frauds from people while working as a child minder.

Temecula woman sentenced for stealing, gambling away $565,000

A Temecula woman who stole $565,000 from the Escondido- based concrete business where she worked and gambled the money away at local casinos was sentenced today to six years in state prison. Sheila Jo Jackson, 46, pleaded guilty last month to a half-dozen felony charges, including embezzlement, check forgery and grand theft, filed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. Vista Superior Court Judge Michael Washington ordered Jackson to pay restitution to Betz Concrete, where she worked as a business manager. The thefts went back to at least 2012, said Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn. A bank representative contacted the concrete company about suspicious activity on its account and Jackson was arrested late last year, according to police.

Man ran half-dozen illegal gambling rooms in Austin area

Chong Pak, 53, has been arrested in connection to an illegal gambling operation in Austin. Police found nearly $750,000 in cash in Pak’s home after serving a warrant, officials said. Police believe Pak owned six to eight game rooms in the Austin area. Austin police have arrested a man in connection to citywide illegal gambling activities, but the case remains open as they expect to file more charges in the future against others, police said. People who play with these particular machines do not have a “legitimate” chance of winning, police said. These activities are of interest to police because of the related crimes that could occur, such as robberies and violent crimes, police said. Austin police believe there are about 80 illegal gambling operations housed in warehouses, homes and storefronts throughout the Austin area, said Austin police Cmdr. Troy Officer of APD’s organized crime unit.

Ex-casino worker admits role in ‘inside job’ robbery that led to murder of Brink’s guard

Ammar has been locked up since shortly after the Aug. 21, 2011, robbery, an insider job that led to the shooting death of Brink’s guard Alvaro Lopez Ramos. Ramos, 26, was fatally shot while picking up cash from the Calder Race Track and Casino, on the border of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Jurors found Ammar not guilty of playing a role in the murder but convicted him of robbery, conspiracy and a related firearms offense at his 2012 trial. Four other people who pleaded guilty to their roles in the incident are serving federal prison terms ranging from five years to 50 years. Vladimir Louissaint, 31, of Miami Gardens, who confessed to firing the fatal shots, received the most severe punishment of 50 years. Ammar, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was a security manager at the casino, remained imprisoned while his appeal was pending. His case is now being handled by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.

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

Advertisements

Comments are disabled.

%d bloggers like this: