Gambling is often a secret addiction, and the fact that it is so readily accessible online means that more and more people are being drawn in. It is easy to gamble online in your own home and, because the money is deposited to an online account direct from a credit card or bank account, many gamblers become carried away because they do not feel as though they are spending cash. Many will lose track of the amount of money they have gambled and the amount of time they have spent gambling online.
The online gaming industry advertises ‘free bets’ to new customers while some offer to triple the amount deposited, meaning gamblers can have quite a bit to play with initially. However, when these funds run out, which they inevitably will, those who have become hooked will begin depositing more and more money.
Gambling can be highly addictive and requires a lot of money, so it is no surprise that most gambling addicts will face financial hardship. The pull of gambling can be too strong, and many people will soon begin spending money they cannot afford. Some will borrow from family and friends – others will max out credit cards and find themselves in a difficult situation where they cannot pay this money back. When things get desperate, they may even begin to commit crimes just to fund their habit.
This is what happened to Steven Shepherd, a lawyer from Cheshire, who had a long-term gambling problem; he stole £150,000 from clients to help fund his addiction. He has now been sentenced to three years in prison.
However, Shepherd denied taking the money to feed his addiction and said a mystery woman was blackmailing him. He did admit to one count of false accounting and eight counts of theft between July 2009 and November 2011.
It was discovered that Shepherd had been making monthly payments to another account, but there was no proof of any blackmail plot. He had been falsifying documents and client ledgers to cover his tracks but during an independent audit of the company, his crimes were discovered.
Although Shepherd claimed he stole the money to pay a blackmailer, Judge John Potter did not accept this explanation. He said, “The evidence in front of me suggests that you did so entirely for you own benefit to fund a gambling habit.”
He also said that there was a level of sophistication involved in concealing his actions from his partners and clients.
As well as handing down a three-year prison sentence, the judge also ordered Shepherd to pay £45,000 in compensation to his former partner and £100,000 to a client. He was also ordered to pay a further £700 in costs.
The consequences of Shepherd’s actions are far-reaching. His former partner has been under a lot of stress and now has to deal with his firm’s reputation being damaged. Shepherd’s crimes also affected clients and their families, with much of the money being stolen from the estates of deceased parties.
Shepherd’s family are now living in rented accommodation, and it is unlikely he will ever find work in the same capacity again.
Many addicts do not seek help for their addiction; when things go too far, they find themselves in terrible trouble. Getting help for an addiction as early as possible is advisable. At Rehab Helper, we can provide advice and support for addicts and their families. We are a free referral service working with treatment providers in both the public and private sectors. For more information and a comprehensive assessment, contact Rehab Helper today.