IT analysts found guilty of gambling fraud

Two IT analysts have received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years at Croydon Crown Court after using their inside knowledge of the computer...

Two IT analysts have received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years at Croydon Crown Court after using their inside knowledge of the computer systems in a nationwide casino chain to steal money.

Andrew Owen Ashley, 30, of Laleham Road, London SE6, and Nimesh Bhagat, 31, of Laitwood Road, London SW12, both employed as a problem analysts at the casino at the time of the offences, were found guilty of theft.

The men admitted making fraudulent claims for bets totalling more than £33,000 between 1 July 2007 and 7 September 2007 using their knowledge of the casinos' IT system.

They were handed 200 hours of community service and will have to pay back more than £16,000 each.

Detective inspector Ann-Marie Waller from the Metropolitan Police Services' Clubs and Vice unit said, "This was a long and complex investigation into what I believe may be the first case of its kind using IT systems to commit fraud within the gaming industry in the UK and if it had not been for vigilant staff within the casino the £33,000 might easily have rolled into hundreds of thousands."

"These men not only used their intimate knowledge of two complex systems to break the law and make these fraudulent claims, they also breached the trust of their employers and any semblance of professional integrity."

The men had used remote betting terminals in the casinos, which allow customers to place bets on a roulette game without being present at the live roulette wheel.

An investigation was launched in late August 2007 after a member of staff noticed that a customer who had placed £10 into a roulette machine had claimed a £600 win, which is impossible when the longest odds at roulette are 35/1.

The investigation led to the discovery of a series of similar claims, and a pattern of ticket credits that detectives linked to the men.

Computers and other evidence seized from the addresses of the two men showed that they had used their knowledge of the casinos and their own employer's IT systems to make the terminals produce tickets for large sums of credit.

Video and audio footage placed at least one of the men at the casino terminals involved when the offences took place.

Image: Conor Ogle

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