A Brief Look at Crime 07/23 – 08/05

Lottery Scams Have Bilked Americans, Canadians Out of $344 Million Since 2015

North Americans — including both US and Canadian citizens — have lost more than $344 million to lottery scams and other prize-offering hoaxes over the past three years, according to a new study by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB said that between 2015 and 2017, over half a million such swindles had been reported to authorities, although the actual the number of victims may be much higher, as many are too embarrassed to report the crime. The overwhelming majority of victims are senior citizens, targeted both because they tend to have more disposable income than their younger counterparts, who may still be raising children. The elderly are also often easier to manipulate, especially those suffering from cognitive impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In a “worst of the worst” example, octogenarian Ted Ruppert of St, Louis lost nearly $8 million in a bogus Jamaican lottery scheme, although the BB reports the average loss to victims at closer to the $500 range.

Aviva insurance agent jailed for ‘sophisticated, complex’ £90,000 embezzlement

A former insurance agent at Aviva in Perth was jailed for 22 months after he admitted embarking on a “sophisticated, complex” embezzlement of almost £100,000 to fund his gambling habit. The court was told that the vast majority of the embezzled money had been authorised by Williams, using his unique Aviva system identification. He was caught out when a colleague noted that payment was being made to an account which did not appear to be linked to a customer. The insurance giants called in their main investigations officer and this led to Williams being targeted for the fraud. He admitted that between November 1, 2012, and May 6, 2015, he embezzled £90,000 while working as an employee of Aviva Plc, Pitheavlis, Perth.

Hundreds of birds removed from two Indiana cockfighting operations

Indiana’s gaming commission raided two alleged cockfighting operations in two different counties Wednesday. One of them is the biggest they’ve ever found in Indiana. Authorities say 150 birds were found behind the privacy fences of an Avon home in Hendricks County. More than 600 birds were seized from the property surrounding a small home on the edge of the small community of Waveland in Montgomery County. The 750 birds, the majority of them roosters, are evidence of cockfighting operations that, according to investigators, bred, trained and prepared the animals to fight to the death for gambling spectators. “This is serious, really serious,” said Kathryn Destreza of the ASPCA. The American Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty of Animals helped undercover gaming commission investigators examine the birds and gather other evidence. “Gaffs, knives, implements they attach to the legs for fighting. Different medications and supplements to enhance the bird’s performance,” Destreza said, describing what investigators found.

Animal Abuser Slapped With 15 Year Prison Sentence In Dog Fighting Case

Devechio Rowland has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and another 35 on probation for starving, abusing and abandoning more than 100 dogs in the woods of Polk County, Georgia last year. Approximately 30 animal rights advocates sat outside the courthouse with a few of the dogs that suffered at Rowland’s hands. Some cried when they learned the abuser’s sentence. At the end of April, the judge found Rowland guilty on all 214 counts of animal cruelty, including 107 felony counts for dog fighting and 107 misdemeanor counts for animal abuse. Unfortunately, due to a technicality in the law, Rowland was not eligible for felony aggravated abuse charges. He settled on 50 years with 15 to be served and an extended 35 year probation with special conditions that Rowland can never own a dog, live in a home with a dog or possess anything to do with dogs or dog fighting for the rest of his life.

Oklahoma Tribe Liable for Deadly Bus Crash

A Dallas appeals court has upheld a $9.3 million verdict against the Choctaw Nation after finding the southern Oklahoma tribe liable for a charter bus crash that killed two elderly passengers. The Court of Appeals for Texas’ 5th District unanimously dismissed the tribe’s appeal of a 2016 Dallas County ruling saying it was liable for the deaths of Alice Stanley and Paula Hahn, the Oklahoman reported. “The appellate court was correct in affirming the jury’s verdict in this horrifying crash,” said Frank Branson, an attorney for Stanley’s estate and children. The bus was traveling to the tribe’s casino in Durant, Oklahoma, when it crashed in Irving, Texas. Many of the issues the Choctaw Nation raised revolve around whether the tribe is liable for the negligence of the bus operators. “Casino operators cannot escape responsibility when they negotiate bus contracts based on the absolute lowest bid without considering the safety of their passengers,” Branson said.

‘Whale whisperer’ accused in $3.3M financial scam 

Paul Gilman dubbed himself a “whale whisperer,” producing and starring in a documentary about using music as a universal language to communicate with the great leviathans of the deep. But the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges he used his purported expertise in soundwaves to finance a lavish lifestyle by scamming roughly $3.3 million from about 40 investors in California, Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas. Gilman was charged with federal securities law violations in a civil court complaint filed Monday in Dallas. Gilman spent substantially all of the money he raised from investors on personal expenses and other non-business items, such as luxury Las Vegas hotels, restaurants, designer clothing and home furnishings, large cash withdrawals at casino ATMs” and a payment to an earlier investor in a Ponzi scheme, the court filing alleged.

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


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