Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Some Guys will Cheat Anything to Play Poker! / Credit Card Scams Victimize Online Gambling


According to the UK Daily Record, here's what happened:

TWO POKER ACES (lol!) were facing jail yesterday after stealing £150,000 from cash machines to fund a Las Vegas gambling spree. Brothers Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Irfan pocketed the cash during a period of just three days. They exploited a loophole in the ATM system to carry out the scam, which saw them originally being accused of stealing almost £500,000.

But yesterday, the swindlers admitted stealing £154,640 using an expired HBOS bank card. The brothers planned to splash the cash in Las Vegas casinos, gambling against some of the world's top poker players. They wanted to play in a series of high-stake competitions including the Annual World Series of Poker in the city's Rio Hotel.

Before the offense, Imran and Irfan competed regularly at Las Vegas's top casinos, such as the one at the Bellagio Hotel - made famous in the Ocean's 11 film. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the scam came about after the Halifax and Bank of Scotland carried out an overhaul of their autoteller system when they merged in 2005. Around 400 staff in Scotland and England helped make the changes.

Imran Bashir, a prosecutor, said an "error" in the system later became apparent, although it was not known if it was deliberate. He said that a member of staff at either the Riverboat Casino or Hot Shots nightclub in Glasgow had revealed the fault to the brothers. The glitch allowed Imran, 33, and Irfan, 36, to overcome the security of ATMs by simply using the expired keycard.

The court heard that between May 29 and June 1, 2005, they made "several hundred withdrawals" at cash points across Glasgow. These included withdrawals from autotellers at the Riverboat Casino and Hot Shots. The bank eventually became aware of the scam and the keycard was traced to a newsagent's in the city's Charing Cross. It was found shop owner Shahana Shad was the sister-in-law of one of the accused.

She admitted being an HBOS customer but claimed she had never received the card. Suspicion then fell on Imran, of Ashlar Avenue, and Irfan, of Birkdale Wood, both Cumbernauld, near Glasgow. Mr Bashir added: "CCTV was obtained from the cash machines involved. The accused were seen approaching various cash lines."

Their homes were raided and £14,480 was found in a safe belonging to Imran. Another £140,160 was discovered in Irfan's safe. The brothers were originally charged with stealing £486,320. However, prosecutors accepted their guilty pleas to taking the amount recovered at their homes. A source close to the investigation said the stolen cash was to be used to take on the world's best poker players. (lol again!) She said: "You need serious cash to take on some of these guys in Las Vegas and an opportunity to get involved in a scam like this was a godsend for Imran and Irfan. "The cash could have gone a long way but, in this case, it was just one very big gamble too far and they lost out - big time."

Sheriff Robert Anthony QC deferred sentencing until later this month for reports.

A spokesman for HBOS yesterday refused to reveal how the conmen stole the cash.
But he said: "We originally identified this issue and alerted the police, which shows how robust our systems are. "No customers have lost any money. It was just one very big gamble too far."

Does anybody think this pair of geniuses would have come back from Vegas anything but broke even if they did get away with the bank loot? (lol number three!)


The following article about credit card fraud rocking the online gambling industry appeared this week in the UK Inquirer. Interesting:


ONLINE GAMBLING firms took the brunt of losses to credit card fraudsters last year, according to data released by APACS, the credit card industry association.

Reports ricocheted around the media last year that card-not-present (CNP) fraud had "rocketed" 44 per cent in the first six months of 2007, to £137 million. The message to retailers and online shoppers was clear: run for the hills.

What anyone failed to consider was what sort of fraud was being committed by these fraudsters. Most of the card scams were being laid on gambling firms. Should that surprise anyone?

As it turns out, the fraudsters were also keen on cheap flights and mobile phones, but the rest of the retail sector had not been hit by much more fraud than the year before. Certainly no where near the 44 per cent everyone was screaming about last year.

According to stats just released by APACS, online gambling firms including the National Lottery lost 61 per cent more to CNP scams in the first half of 2007 than in the same period in 2006. They lost a total of £12.7 million between them.

Travel firms were hit half as much again in the 2007 period as in 2006, while telecoms firms (£11.6 million - mostly mobile phones) lost nearly a third more (£6.4 million )

Mail order and electrical goods retailers, which account for much online business, saw CNP fraud increase only 6 and 3 per cent respectively (£6.7 million and £6.3 million). Online retailers turned over £44 billion last year.

What cannot be denied about those figures everyone was peeing their pants over last year was that fraudsters, finding the newly implemented chip and pin was an inconvenience, started committing their cards from abroad from countries that didn't have chip and pin. Incidences of fraud abroad had doubled to over £108 million.

Stands to reason though doesn't it? You pick up an iffy credit card, what are you going to do? Buy one of those spanky mobile phones with a web browser, jump on an aeroplane and sit on some beach in the Algarve playing online poker. Sorted.

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the Remote Gambling Association, was unable to explain the figures. There had been no new developments that would explain why gambling firms should be losing more. And it was difficult to verify the numbers.

"Most companies won't admit when they have suffered this type of attack," he said, but added, "We've not had a major attack for some months."

The RGA reckons online gamblers take about £1 billion a year in the UK, which makes their losses to CNP fraud sound piffling. And take a step back: does anyone have any problem with fraudsters diddling money out of gambling firms? Isn't that the sort of thing they make feel-good crime capers about?

Well, if you ask me, I certainly could relate to that!!!