Borrowing to Fund Gaming Habit
A 63-year-old woman was told by a judge her online gaming habit was out of control because she lived with the indefinite hope of hitting the ultimate jackpot. The woman, obsessed with online Bingo, ran out her bankroll and then turned to loan sharks for more. She defaulted on the payments to the loan sharks and proceeded to commit a white collar crime – selling a piece of investment property immediately before filing bankruptcy. The woman did not disclose she had sold the property during the bankruptcy filing, and soon, found herself standing before a judge. A bankruptcy trustee found the sale after checking her papers. The property sold for more than $35,000, and although the woman had only borrowed $15,000, the interest piled up, according to the loan sharks.
While the judge accepted the woman’s explanation about the loan sharks, he sentenced her to eight months, and suspended it, meaning she must stay out of trouble for eight months or she would be incarcerated. She will be supervised, and required to abide by a curfew. The judge said the offense was serious. The woman acknowledged she had committed fraud by selling the property and keeping quiet about it on her bankruptcy documents. Her attorney said she had played online Bingo to the tune of $80,000 before seeking out the loan sharks. She couldn’t go to her family because she was ashamed, her attorney added. The upside is the woman literally halted her gaming.
Bingo Loan Sharks Willing to Lend
Bingo isn’t the only game loan sharks lend money for. Roulette and sports betting came up in one case where 80 percent of nearly 900 cases involved criminal lending. Like the woman, the gamers were habitual. But, the acting prosecutor said they weren’t victims, however, their families were. The gamers lost bets on roulette and international football games, and had to keep borrowing to recoup their losses, which added up to more and more as time went on. Their only rationale was to win the money back by betting. It was a problem and most wouldn’t admit it, even after their families left or disowned them. The authorities advised the gamers to “disappear” until they could pay what they owed, but less than five percent actually could.
Pay the money Back, or Else
Typically, loan sharks lend money attached to incredibly high interest rates. This is called predatory lending or payday loans. If they aren’t paid back, loan sharks may resort to threats or violence. History puts them in the criminal underworld, but more recently, loan sharks have moved up to the seemingly legal business of making small cash loans on a short-term basis. The interest is inflated, and charges for the loan can equal three to five percent on the original amount. The loan sharks attribute the charge to a “service,” and effectively bypass laws.
Additional loan sharks come in the form of payday loans. Customers can write postdated checks for cash. The loan shark will hold the postdated check for up to two weeks. Customers pay the amount on the check, which includes inflated interest. Historians have likened the payday loans to early 20th century loans, when the term, “loan shark” was first used. The payday loan businesses are legal in some states. In other countries, loan sharks are operating illegally. They will vandalize customer properties, or completely destroy them.