A Brief Look at Crime 12/07 – 12/13

Gambler Kidnapped Son of Debtor Over $4 Million Loan

A kidnapper who snatched a 12-year-old boy off the street in a bid to recoup an AU$5.5 million ($4 million USD) gambling debt from the boy’s father apologized to his victim as he was handed a seven-year prison Tuesday. Australia’s ABC reports that Zhen Jie “Kenny” Zhang, 55, told the boy he was “deeply sorry” for the ordeal he subjected him to on May 11-12, 2018 when he bundled him into his Jeep outside his home on Australia’s Gold Coast. Zhang kept the boy prisoner for 16 hours, during which time a mask was tied onto his face. After he made several attempts to escape, a towel was stuffed into his mouth and his head was tied to a car seat. Prosecutors said the boy was only given water twice and allowed to urinate once during his period of captivity. Photographs of the boy in this state, described by prosecutors as “disturbing,” were shown to the court. A text was sent to his parents that read: “Watch out… wait for pick up the body.” The boy was found by police in the back of the car 150 miles away from where he had been abducted after a tip from a member of the public. “If you feel afraid please forgive me for that; your father was acting terribly [and] owed me a substantial amount of money,” the kidnapper told the boy in court through a Mandarin interpreter. “I felt I had no other option.”

Journalist Tied to a Pole, Beaten For Reporting on Illegal Gambling (India)

The image of a local journalist being tied to an electric pole while a group of men assault him in a broad daylight has gone viral in Assam. Milan Mahanta, a correspondent for the Assamese daily /Pratidin,/ had stopped at a /paan/ shop on Sunday afternoon at Mirza, a town located in Kamrup district, when the assault took place. Mirza is around 35 kilometres from state capital, Guwahati. Incidentally, the attack took place on the day the nation marked National Press Day. The incident has sparked uproar on social media, with many expressing concern for journalists working in Assam under the present political dispensation. Mahanta was on his way to attend a meeting when a group of seven men surrounded him and dragged him from the /paan/ shop before tying him to an electric pole with cables at Mirza Teeniali, a well-known spot  located in the centre of Mirza town. For the past week, Mahanta has been reporting on illegal gambling activities, which have been mushrooming with the onset of Diwali festivities. He angered an alleged local ruffian who, as accused by locals in Mirza, has also indulged in land grabbing activities.

New Research Shows Online Gambling Account Takeovers Are On the Rise, Especially During Covid-19 Lockdown

New research has revealed that over 50% of online gambling companies have faced an increase in fraud involving account takeover. The increase is presumably happening because of the surge in online gambling activity during the coronavirus lockdown that literally stripped them of land-based gambling options. The fraud detection and payment acceptance company /Ravelin/ shared that the results of a new survey showed that 52% of companies that operate in *the online gambling sector* have seen a considerable rise in account takeover activity over the past year. As /Ravelin/ explained, so-called “account takeover activity” is associated with fraudsters gaining access to a third-party account that does not belong to them to steal money.

In fact, online gambling operators remained in second place after only taxi companies in terms of the average number of account takeover attacks on an annual basis. *Online gambling firms saw an average of 60 account takeover attacks* on an annual basis, while taxi firms experienced 65 attacks on average. The results of the report showed that the attacks involve *unauthorized individuals getting customer details* to take control of their online accounts and then *sell the compromised data to third parties* or *use the account themselves* to spend large amounts on various goods or services.

Men pretended to be detectives so they could ‘confiscate’ gaming machines from Houston store, police say 

Houston police are looking for the suspects accused of impersonating a public servant so they could steal gaming machines from a store. The crime happened on Oct. 27 shortly after 8 p.m., according to the Houston Police Department. Two men walked into the Valero at 6915 Telephone and identified themselves as detectives with the gaming commission authority, and they told the clerk they had a seizure order to confiscate the machines due to illegal gambling. The men had badges and handguns. They also had dollies to load up the equipment on the back of large, white Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck. The suspects fled the scene and have not yet been identified or arrested. Houston police noted that Texas does not even have a state gaming commission, and the “seizure order” that was presented to the clerk had what appeared to have an official stamp and had a signature with a fake judge’s name. Police believe the pair may have done this before, but the victims may have feared reporting the crimes. Each of the stolen machines is valued at $2,500 plus any cash that was inside them.

Ex-office manager gets prison for $1 million embezzlement scheme

The former office manager of a Fayette County medical practice was sentenced Thursday to 28 months in federal prison for embezzling nearly $1 million over five years. U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak imposed that term on Cynthia Demniak, who had pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and filing false tax returns following an investigation by the IRS and U.S. postal inspectors. Demniak, 60, of Leckrone, Pa., had been the office manager at Grandview Medical Management in Uniontown. Between 2013 and 2018, she embezzled $926,940 and used it for personal expenses and to feed her gambling addiction. For tax years 2013 through 2018, she also underreported the stolen money on her federal income tax returns and as a result owed $270,426 to the IRS.

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