How did a 57-year-old gran who lives with her six cats, drives a 13-year-old VW Passat, and earns £36,000 a year afford to blow £50,000 a month on online bingo?
It is the question Mecca Bingo should have asked themselves when they let Kent county-resident Caroline Dumont gamble almost £20,000 a week.
But they didn’t ask. Instead, the company treated her to expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas where she flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon and a cruise to the Bahamas, all for being such a good customer.
Little did they know, Dumont stole her stake from three companies where she worked, to the point that it almost bankrupted one company while another was forced into liquidation. One company managed to stay in business, but only because the owner used her own money to keep the company afloat.
According to Dumont, she started playing virtual slot machines on Meccabingo.com around 2011. As her addiction soared, she began funneling cash from her companies into her betting accounts.
“Soon I was taking as much as £3,000 every few days. At its height, I was taking up to £20,000 a week, betting £250 a time,” said Dumont. “I could’ve been stopped. In 2012 Mecca had enough evidence to trigger a warning system.”
After pleading guilty to three counts of fraud at Maidstone Crown Court, Dumont was slapped with jail time of three years and four months.
Rank Ltd., owner of Mecca, has been ordered to forfeit £950,000 in September—including any profit made from Dumont’s case and another case related to money laundering.
According to the UK Gambling commission (UKGC), Rank Group acknowledged that the company violated its responsible gambling and anti-money laundering policies.
“[Dumont’s] spending with Rank Digital was of a level which should have led to questions being asked about how she could afford to lose such significant amounts,” added UKGC. “There is no evidence that the online customer gave an inaccurate account of how she could afford to sustain such significant losses; she simply was not asked.”
After the incident, Rank Group have conducted a full review of its AML arrangements and voluntarily surrendered profits that resulted from Dumont’s transactions.