Betfred Fined £322,000 for Letting Convicted Fraudster Who Stole £2 Million Gamble Online
Posted on: October 10, 2019, 04:14h.
Last updated on: October 10, 2019, 05:29h.
Online bookmaker Betfred has agreed to pay £322,000 ($400,000) to settle allegations that it allowed a convicted fraudster to deposit £210,000 ($261,000) in stolen money on its online platform. The customer subsequently lost £140,000 ($216,000) to Betfred during a 12-day gambling binge.
An investigation by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) found that Betfred had breached anti-money laundering (AML) rules by failing to adequately check the source of the fraudster’s funds.
“The management of this customer in relation to AML raised significant concerns regarding the effectiveness of the policies and procedures that [Betfred] had in place, and its management of risks to the licensing objectives,” wrote the UKGC. “Since this incident, [Betfred] has made improvements to its AML procedures to prevent a recurrence of the failings.”
The regulator noted that the operator had twice requested a source of funds (SOF) during the 12-day period in November 2017 but had still permitted the customer to gamble and lose a six-figure sum, despite not receiving a reply.
The UKGC did not identify the identity of the fraudster. But a search of recent cases in the UK that might fit the bill provides one likely candidate.
Last month, Joyce Baker, a former financial manager at Light Corporation in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was handed a prison sentence of five years and ten months for fraud by abuse of position after embezzling £2,011,983 from her ex-employer.
According to media reports, Baker is a gambling addict who began siphoning money from the company within six weeks of starting work there in 2012, and continued until she left in June 2018, seven months after the Betfred incident.
Baker’s crimes left Light Corporation in financial disarray, directly leading to the layoff of around 30 of her colleagues.
According to the company’s owner, David Caddick, after people started asking awkward questions, Baker quit and promptly launched a £30,000 lawsuit against Light Corporation for unfair dismissal, offering to drop the case for a quick settlement.
It was only after she had left the post and a new financial controller was hired that the theft was discovered.
During her trial, the court heard she had blown the cash on online gambling, VIP visits to casinos, vacations, and cruises.
Curiously, The Daily Mail reports that when asked by online gambling companies to provide proof of the source of her income, she forged Caddick’s signature on paperwork, stating she earned £750 per day as a consultant.
The fraudster described in the UKGC statement was “spending stolen money through several gambling operators.” Baker may not have felt the need to forge SOFs for Betfred because it had pursued them less rigorously, which would explain why the other operators that had also allowed her to play have not been subject to regulatory sanctions in the UKGC investigation.
Meanwhile, some of the money Baker stole has not been accounted for. The 51-year-old was held in contempt of court for refusing to divulge its whereabouts to police.