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Mum Stole Elderly Relative’s Savings to Play Online Bingo

  • 04 May 13
  • Written by Deena Chance

altUsually, when we read about gambling addicts stealing money, it’s often a case of dipping into the company coffers. However, in the latest case of online gambling addiction-gone-wrong, a Scottish mum decided to pilfer her aged relative’s life savings.

Karen Moore, from Cumnock in Ayrshire, recently appeared in court on a charge of stealing £120,000 from her great-uncle to fund her online bingo habit. Ms. Moore says she “became addicted and couldn’t stop,” blowing a large chunk of the stolen money without realising how much she’d spent “until it got out of control.” Unlike many people finding themselves in this sticky situation, when she finally realised the severity of the situation, she contacted the local police and confessed everything.

Ayr Sheriff Court heard that Ms. Moore’s online bingo addiction had become so extensive that she spent almost £10.5k in just one night.

If you’re wondering how this Scottish mother got access to her great-uncle’s money in the first place, you’d be wrong if you thought he’d been stuffing his savings under his mattress. When Francisco Barerra moved into an Auchinleck care home in August 2010, Ms. Moore was given access to his bank account. She then withdrew a total of nearly £120,000 before walking into her local police station in April 2012 and telling officers what she’d done. At the time of her confession, she was nine months pregnant, and believed she had only taken £30,000 from the bank account. The police then visit Mr. Barerra’s care house the following day, where they heard from social workers that payments to the nursing home were £10,000 in arrears. When officers spoke to the elderly gentleman, he told them that he didn’t have anything to do with his savings, and that his family looked after them on his behalf. He described his great-niece as “like a daughter,” and that he was “very shocked” to discover what she had done. However, Mr. Barerra did not want to see Ms. Moore charged with the offence, although he sadly died (aged 84) just three months before the case went to court.

As well as letting her great-uncle down, Ms. Moore was unable to say her goodbyes before he died, as she had been advised not to contact him until the case was over. Her defence told the court that this was something she would “regret for the rest of her life.”

Despite already repaying more than £17,000, plus all her winnings, back into Mr. Barerra’s account, £50,000 remains outstanding. Ms. Moore pled guilty to the embezzlement charges, and her sentence has been deferred until May 2013.

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