The issue of problem gambling in the UK has once again been at full display, after an accounts manager at home furnishing company based in Leicestershire Dunelm was sentenced for syphoning nearly a quarter of a million to satisfy his gambling urges.
Excessive Gambling Behind the Fraud
Thomas Eaton, 34-year-old, of North View Close, Asfordby Valley, near Melton, admitted to systematically obtaining over a period of 4 years funds to the amount of £248,354, from Dunelm, to fund his excessive gambling habits. He also splurged away his house deposit and wedding savings, but only when he hit rock bottom by losing the weekly shopping money of the family, he found courage to admit his gambling problem.
Eaton, who was responsible for a team of 3 at the company, dealing with invoices, expenses and processing company’s credit cards, lost his job when he confessed to the fraudulent acts which took place between January 2015 and January 2019. At least he found the guts to admit to the problem and undertake remedy, unlike many others who, when brought to the edge of the cliff through gambling, elect to jump.
During a hearing at Leicester Crown Court in October, Thomas Eaton pleaded guilty to 6 counts related to fraudulently obtaining money from the UK retail stores operator, with an alleged total of £248,418. The actual amount of money swindled away would be subjected to an agreement between the prosecution and defense barristers. Besides the quarter of a million stolen by Eaton, Dunelm incurred a further £100,000 to investigate the fraud.
Credit Cards, False Accounts Book and False Cash Expenses
With the precise sums still in dispute during the October hearing, Eaton pleaded guilty to abusing his position as a finance manager to fraudulently obtain £116,641 as well as £1,118, as well as making a gain of £18,336 from the 3 credit company credit cards which he obtained for himself. Eaton also admitted to false accounting by falsifying an accounts book and by submitting 20 cash expense claims which he knew were untrue or misleading, totaling another £112,323.
Two of the gaming companies involved in the case voluntarily refunded to Dunelm £55,424 of the money Eaton lost, with another £36,000 also in the process of being refunded, but other operators refused to pay anything the former accounts manager lost in bets.
Thomas Eaton was sentenced to 27 months in jail by Judge Robert Brown, despite the steps taken by him to rectify his gambling addiction by undergoing therapy and helping others with similar patterns of problem gambling, making YouTube videos, and even setting up a support group for families affected by gambling addiction.