Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

IT analysts stole 33,000 from London casinos

Nimesh Bhagat (left) and Andrew Owen Ashley
Nimesh Bhagat (left) and Andrew Owen Ashley worked as IT anaysts

Two IT contractors have admitted using their insider knowledge to cheat casinos out of thousands of pounds by printing false winning betting slips.

The pair stole more than £33,000 by infiltrating software controlling remote betting machines which covered roulette wheels at four London casinos.

Andrew Owen Ashley, 30, Nimesh Bhagat, 31, both from London, admitted theft between July and September 2007.

They received 12 month suspended prison sentences at Croydon Crown Court.

'Complex systems'

The scam centred on remote betting terminals at casinos that enable customers to place bets without being at the roulette table.

These men not only used their intimate knowledge of two complex systems to break the law and make these fraudulent claims, they also breached the trust of their employers
Det Insp Ann-Marie Waller

Those who make winning bets are given a printed ticket with details of their credit that can then be cashed.

They reprogrammed the machines to print out winning vouchers for sums of up to £600, whatever the outcome on the wheel.

But they were caught out when a sharp-eyed cashier realised a payout was impossible as only £10 had been wagered at odds of 35-1.

Officials traced a string of suspicious wins back to the two contractors, who were employed as problem analysts.

Ashley, of Catford, south-east London, and Bhagat, of Balham, south-west London, each pleaded guilty to theft under the Theft Act 1968.

The pair were also ordered to undertake 200 hours of community service and pay back around £16,000 each.

The convictions are believed to be the first where people have been caught mishandling the computer technology behind Britain's gaming industry.

Det Insp Ann-Marie Waller said: "These men not only used their intimate knowledge of two complex systems to break the law and make these fraudulent claims, they also breached the trust of their employers."



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