Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poker Cheating and Identity Theft...Is that a Marriage made in Heaven?

Many of you have heard of my book Dirty Poker but I imagine my book Identity Theft is not as well known to you. I wrote that book back in 2006, and told many true stories of how crooked gamblers used stolen identities to fleece casinos and poker rooms.

Well, here's a story of how one crooked poker player stole another's identity to launch, of all things, a benefits scam. And the poor victim is already dead. Talk about muddying someone's grave! Well, you know what they say: If you can't screw 'em while they're livin', screw 'em after they're dyin'!


11:40 - 18 December 2007

Poker player Norman Kay took a drastic gamble by trying to steal a dead friend's identity in a benefits scam, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Kay, 63, of Courtenay Terrace, Starcross, used the man's details on a UK passport, birth certificate, NI certificate and NHS medical card.

The court heard Kay was trying to claim benefits, using the false details, to pay off £50,000 in gambling debts.

Judge Jeremy Griggs said: "Instead of using a canoe, he thought he'd use Day of the Jackal."

The judge was referring to the case of former teacher and prison officer John Darwin who came back from dead after apparently drowning in a canoeing accident. The Day of the Jackal is a spy novel and film in which a criminal sets up false identities for himself.

Kay had pleaded guilty to an offence of improperly obtaining a passport, an offence of false representation and a charge of attempted deception.

Prosecutor Emily Pitts said Kay tried to claim Pension Credit using false documents in the name of Christopher John Francis, a man who was born in 1944 and died in 1974.

Mr Francis, who the court was told died in a work-related accident, knew the defendant.

If Kay's claim had been successful, Pension Credit would have enabled him to also claim housing benefit, council tax benefit and free prescriptions. But staff at the Benefits Agency realised the national insurance number belonged to a dead man and an investigation was launched.

Police surveillance linked Kay to his two properties, in Sheffield and Starcross.

Documents linking him to the identity theft were found at his Starcross home.

The court heard his wife had been unaware of the scam and was standing by him despite her shock.

Defence counsel Piers Norsworthy said: "Sheer despair drove him into ending Norman Kay's legal status, to disappear, and for Mr Francis to begin."

He said the defendant had not intended to flee the country but needed the passport as part of the benefits scam, which he hoped would pay off his poker debts.

Mr. Norsworthy added: "He'd hoped, perhaps as many gamblers do, that the end would be a happy one. But the ruse was rumbled."

The court heard Kay did not have any recent criminal convictions.

Judge Griggs adjourned sentencing for Kay to have an operation, as the defendant is in poor health.

But he warned him: "I make it absolutely clear this is offending which merits custody and that is likely to be the outcome."

Kay will be sentenced on Friday, February 1.