Banker loses stolen $19m betting on the Internet
David Faithfull, a bank manager from Australia, stole from his bank to finance a losing streak totaling A$19m (US$13m) betting on the Internet. Faithfull worked for the Commonwealth Bank in Karratha, Australia, from whom he defrauded up to $A400,000 per week to fund his habit.
Faithfull, 36, would bet on horses via the Darwin-based All SportsBet site, transferring cash from the bank’s computer directly into an IASBet online betting account. Faithfull took the cash from term deposit accounts and foreign currency notes. He managed to get away with the scam from 1998 without detection even through regular audits – until Faithfull himself came clean about the scam.
As is so often the case, Faithfull chased his losses with more bets. Having lost A$8m, Faithfull stole, bet and lost another $A11m in six months trying to recoup his losses. His weekly deposits were between A$200,000 and A$400,000.
'He'd keep betting in huge amounts until all the money was gone,' a former IASBet Darwin trading room employee said. 'You couldn't miss him. My first reaction was, who is he? I was told his name. Faithfull. Yeah, but who is he? I was told he was a bank manager. It was common knowledge but it wasn't said out aloud.'
Unsurprisingly, he was AllSports Bet’s best punter, staking eight to ten times more than other punters, according to one former AllSports Bet’s employee.
IASbet's rules dictate a maximum exposure payout on any single bet is $200,000, except by prior negotiation, but Faithfull didn’t seem to have any such limits, with an average bet of around A$20,000, and the biggest A$70,000. Faithfull was never turned away.
'Faithfull's bets were so erratic, they were a joke - if they weren't so big. That made them scary,' a former employee said. 'He bet on up to 20 races on a Saturday. He'd put a lot of money on no-hopers at long odds. Sometimes two in the same race. On the card, they had no chance - but what if he fluked it and won? He'd clean us out. There was so much money on that, Read (IASbet’s founder and executive chairman) often had to lay off [with other bookmakers] in a big way to protect himself.'
Faithfull, however, was no lucky punter, nor much of a handicapper: 'Occasionally, he'd have a big win,' the former employee said. 'He had about $70,000 on Northerly in either last year's Cox Plate or the Caulfield (it won both). He had more than $50,000 on when Private Steer won [The Stradbroke at 9-4] at Eagle Farm.
'But he was your classic mug punter. I was told that in all the time that he bet with us, he made a withdrawal of about $30,000 (from his betting account) only once. He just kept feeding it in and burning it up. But it wasn't his money, was it?'
Faithfull's final bet with IASBet was on Saturday, August 2. On August 3, left a note to two employees, confessing to stealing the money. A few days later, he voluntarily gave himself up to police and the bank’s investigators. Faithfull was charged with theft as a servant, and will be sentenced this week. He faces a maximum jail term of 10 years.
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