Woman with gambling addiction admits to casino scam
Shoumin Chai once had a promising future. A law school graduate, she was hired by a New York firm with the promise of a $250,000-a-year job if she passed the bar, her defense attorney said.
Then, she went to Atlantic City with a couple of friends.
"My life stopped the first day I started gambling," Chai said today in Northampton County Court as she admitted to the latest in more than 15 years of casino-related crimes.
Chai will serve two to five years in state prison and five years of probation for tricking ATM users at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem into letting her into their bank accounts. The plea deal came as she was slated to face trial on 118 charges relating to a 13-hour string in June in which she bilked Sands patrons as they withdrew money.
Under Monday's plea, Chai admitted to three counts of access device fraud, three of identity theft and three of theft. One of the charges is a felony, with the rest misdemeanors.
When she was charged, Chai, 55, of New York already had a 50-page rap sheet that included 13 felony convictions in New Jersey, where she was barred last year from casinos. Defense lawyer James Connell said her arrests began in 1992, and all involved gambling.
"She never did pass the bar. She never sat for the bar," said Connell, who called her story a warning to others. "She lost all of that because someone introduced her to a casino."
But one of her victims, Anthony Alfano, said Chai was chiding casinos for her own problems, and he noted that New Jersey courts gave her several chances but she continued to gamble and steal.
"People have gambling problems; she was blaming the casino for that," said Alfano, who had $400 taken from him. "I just think she was looking for someone to blame."
Gambling addiction led to downfall of £80k job graduate
An accounting student secured an £80,000-a-year job before becoming addicted to gambling and forging her parents’ signatures to take out credit cards and thousands of pounds in loans, a court heard.
Jayna Patel, aged 24, paid off debts, bought new clothes and travelled to New York after accessing more than £43,000 in her parents’ names.
Despite a “deep-rooted” gambling addiction Patel, from Wolverhampton, had been offered a well paid job working for London-based PriceWaterhouseCooper, while studying for an accounting degree in Liverpool.
But the offer was withdrawn when the fraud came to light. At Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday Patel, of Wardlow Close, off Goldthorn Hill, was senten-ced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Judge Amjad Nawaz told her: “Having gone to university and done your degree, these convictions will leave you in a position where your qualifications are of no use to you and that is a sentence longer that this court can pass.”
Mr Mark Phillips, prosecuting, said Patel used the internet to apply for bank accounts, loans and credit cards in her parents’ names, between March and December 2007.
She then intercepted their post and forged their signatures to authorise the accounts before using online banking to make payments. She also spent £1,800 on a credit card while pretending to be her mother.
“The first thing her parents knew about it was in November 2008 when someone from Nationwide called at their home to say they owed £16,000,” said Mr Phillips. “From then on notices came rolling in from debt collectors.”
Miss Rebecca Smith, defending, said Patel had hop-ed the accounting job would allow her to repay the debts. “It is an unusual case because she had everything to live and strive for.”
Patel, who admitted six counts of fraud totalling £21,129, asked for 14 other offences of fraud worth £21,998, to be taken into account. She was given an 18 month supervision order and 150 hours unpaid work.
Read more: http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2010/07/07/gambling-addiction-led-to-downfall-of-80k-job-graduate/#ixzz0t4EhojwX
Markoff Suicide May Be Teaching Tool For Problem Gamblers
Phillip Markoff may go down as a worst case scenario example when states start to educate their youth on the dangers of problem gambling. With casino gambling expanding across the US, counselors are spending much of their time working to educate future gamblers.
Phillip Markoff's name may be used in many of these educational seminars. Markoff, a former gambling addict, committed suicide on Sunday at a Massachusetts jail. Markoff is best known for being the Craigslist killer.
Prosecutors used Markoff's gambling addiction to help paint a picture of a person who had an addiction that led him down a path of criminal behavior. Markoff would lure girls from Craigslist that he felt were weak, then he would rob the women to fuel his addiction.
The criminal behavior, however, would not end there. The twenty-five year old was arrested and charged with the murder of Julissa Brisman. At first family and friends did not believe Markoff could commit the crime, but evidence was overwhelming. His fiance soon called off the wedding, and Markoff fell deeper into a depression.
On Sunday, Markoff took his own life in prison. It was the third such suicide at the Suffolk County jail in the past seven years, but for gambling counselors, the concern quickly turned to education.
"People have to know that no matter how strong the addiction, there is always an opportunity to beat the demons," said Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz. "That is the message that many states are trying to get out to the public in light of all the gambling expansion currently taking place."
The National Council on Problem Gambling has offices set up all across the US and hotlines are available in states where gambling is prevalent. Anyone who has a loved one that they feel needs help can contact the hotlines directly, or visit the NCPG website for details on how to find treatment centers and programs.
Young gran stole for pokies addiction
GRANDMOTHER Barbara Wells is the sad, sorry face of Australia's $18 billion addiction to gambling.
The 39-year-old was yesterday sentenced to 18 months in jail after stealing more than half a million dollars from her Sydney employer to feed a two-year addiction to poker machines.
She lost it all - $545,222 that was not hers, all fed into poker machines.
Maitland Local Court heard Wells became addicted to poker machines in 2006 after enduring domestic violence.
As a property manager with Davis Property Consulting at Mascot, she siphoned company money into three of her own accounts to feed her addiction.
It started with just a few thousand dollars but quickly escalated into a regular habit whereby she would steal up to $15,000 at a time.
The company's directors only noticed the money was missing when clients started complaining their payments had not gone through.
Wells, from Yowie Bay, pleaded guilty yesterday to 129 charges of stealing property as a clerk or servant.
Solicitor Peter Cleaves said Wells became "a zombie" when playing the pokies but that she had strong chances of rehabilitation.
Wesley Mission gambling counsellor Jeff Lucas has heard dozens of similarly distressing stories.
"People gamble for recreation but it's when they start to chase their losses that it becomes problematic," he said.
Wesley Mission reported that Australians spend more than $18 billion on gambling each year, including more than $12 billion on poker machines.
A government Productivity Commission report released in October estimated 125,000 Australians had gambling problems. Up to 15 per cent of poker machine users were considered problem gamblers, with almost 300,000 more at "moderate" risk.
Wesley Mission said part of the problem was machine settings allowed pokie addicts to lose up to $1200 an hour on a single machine.
"Problem gambling is a hidden illness," Mr Lucas said. "It's not like drugs and alcohol where you can see the effects of an addiction."
Magistrate Sharron Crews sentenced Wells to 18 months jail with a 12-month non-parole period.
Arelia Taveras Sues Casinos for $20 Million Over Gambling Addiction
Arelia Margarita Taveras, a former New York City lawyer is reportedly suing Atlantic City casinos for over $20 million, claiming they didn’t notice her gambling addiction. Taveras now owes $1 million for her gambling losses, but thinks the casinos were responsible. Taveras told the Associated Press:
“They knew I was going for days without eating or sleeping. I would pass out at the tables. They had a duty of care to me. Nobody in their right mind would gamble for four or five straight days without sleeping.”
However, Paul O’Gara, an attorney in Atlantic City who specializes in gambling issues argues:
“How are you supposed to know whether this was a woman who was just having a good time, or had money and was just lonely, as opposed to someone who couldn’t control themselves?”
Aren’t people who work at casinos supposed to be mind readers and if they’re not, they should be doing spot checks with interviews about their gambling state of mind?
Taveras was an attorney who represented families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Flight 587 crash. Apparently, Taveras used $100,000 of clients’ escrow money to cover her losses and was charged with grand larceny and forgery by the Queens DA’s office, was disbarred, lost her apartment and parents’ home, and now works at a call center in Minnesota. She also told the AP:
“It’s like crack, only gambling is worse than crack because it’s mental. It creeps up on you, the impulse. It’s a sickness.”
The timing of the news story is interesting because I just watched the movie Even Money last night with Danny De Vito and Kim Basinger which shows the dangers of gambling addiction. Maybe casino workers should be required to take additional training on spotting the signs of an addict. As soon as someone walks to the ATM machine to withdraw more money, they should get questioned or perhaps after a couple hours, people should get kicked out for staying too long.
Well, we’ve already seen McDonald’s sued over obesity problems so we shouldn’t be too surprised over this lawsuit. I guess we should expect drug dealers to get sued soon too.