WTF?! One would imagine that if someone stole almost a quarter of a million dollars to spend on a gambling game, some of that money would be recouped in winnings. Unfortunately for a woman in Australia, the slot machine simulator she was playing doesn't pay out in actual cash, just more of the virtual tokens that she continued to buy.
ABC reports that Tasmania, Australia, resident Rachel Naomi Perri pleaded guilty to 25 charges of computer-related fraud and one count of fraud in court this week. Prosecutor say she made 475 fraudulent transactions while working at the Tasmanian Veterinary Hospital between 2016 and 2019, stealing a total of AUD $940,221 (USD $680,000).
Perri used the stolen money to fund her addiction to mobile slot machine simulator Heart of Vegas Slots. The game, which has over 10 million downloads and a user rating of 4.1, recreates the Las Vegas slot machine experience, giving players the option of buying virtual coins to spend on the machines. However, these tokens cannot be turned back into real money; you just keep spending any winnings on the games.
Heart of Vegas Slots' T&C section explains that players "may be required to pay a fee to obtain virtual items" but "regardless of the terminology used, virtual items may never be redeemed for 'real world' money."
"The games are intended for an adult audience. The games do not offer 'real money gambling' or an opportunity to win real money or prizes," reads the description. "Practice or success at social casino gaming does not imply future success at "real money gambling."
The veterinary practice only realized what Perri had done after she was made redundant in 2019 and the vet found anomalies in the banking statements. Police also discovered that Perri had fraudulently taken out a $30,000 credit card in her husband's name in 2015 without his knowledge and added $24,000 in debt to the card via Heart of Vegas spending. She had also "taken out multiple credit cards and personal loans" to feed her habit.
Perri, who has a long history of gambling, was diagnosed as having a severe gambling disorder.
Perri confessed to her actions immediately when confronted by police, admitting she had been waiting for "a knock on the door."
Back in 2018, US congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted over the misuse of $250,000+ of campaign funds on personal expenses, including $1,500 on Steam games. Hunter claimed his teenage son was responsible for one charge, while the others were from his efforts to block access to the platform. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison but never spent any time behind bars after being pardoned by Donald Trump last December.