Father, 34, who gambled away baby milk money after being ‘groomed’ by bookies is facing jail for stealing £170k to feed his habit
- Tom Eaton was sent personal messages and given cash bonuses from Betsafe
- In fact the £25,000-a-year finance manager, 34, was stealing from his employer
- Betsafe allowed him to carry on betting thousands after concerns were raised
- Eaton has pleaded guilty to taking £170,000 between 2015 and January 2019
- Gambling addict faces up to five years in jail when he is sentenced next month
Betsafe allowed Tom Eaton, 34, to continue betting thousands of pounds even after concerns were raised about his account
A major bookmaker bombarded a gambling addict with personal messages and showered him with cash bonuses of up to £500, secret documents reveal.
Betsafe allowed Tom Eaton, 34, to continue betting thousands of pounds even after concerns were raised about his account.
In fact, the £25,000-a-year finance manager was stealing from his employer, furniture company Dunelm, to fund his habit – and has pleaded guilty to taking £170,000 between 2015 and January 2019.
He admitted forging an account book, submitting 20 bogus expenses claims and fraudulently obtaining three company credit cards.
He faces up to five years in jail when he is sentenced next month, and would leave his wife Sam, 29, to care for their two young children, aged one and four, by herself.
The court heard he took the money to fund a ‘gambling addiction that had escalated out of control’.
On one occasion, Eaton said, he gambled £10 he had reserved to buy milk for his baby.
Yet he was treated like a VIP by the betting company and handed Premier League tickets to watch Manchester City and a night in a four-star hotel, according to documents obtained by the Mail.
Betsafe documents show he lost £36,422 between October 2017 and March 2018, and was given bonuses of £500 after he admitted he was ‘on a rotten run’.
He faces up to five years in jail when he is sentenced next month, and would leave his wife Sam, 29, to care for their two young children, aged one and four, by herself. The court heard he took the money to fund a ‘gambling addiction that had escalated out of control’
The records show that in January 2018, Betsafe’s anti-money-laundering team even checked bank statements showing suspect transactions.
When asked to justify the suspicious funds in his account Eaton, of Asfordby Valley in Leicestershire, said the transactions were ‘some extra income from some expenses I was owed’.
His personal gambling account manager responded ‘that should be good’. Three hours later staff had given him the all-clear and he was given a £100 bonus.
Six weeks later, in March 2018, after he had lost £19,754, another check was triggered, which he failed.
Mrs Eaton, who may now have to sell the family home to pay back her husband’s debts, said: ‘It makes me so sick… How was he allowed to spend so much? It doesn’t excuse what my husband has done, but if the companies had done their checks it wouldn’t have gone as far as it did.’
The account records from Betsafe, which is owned by Swedish giant Betsson, show reams of friendly messages between Eaton and his gambling account manager.
In December 2017, following the Manchester City match, Eaton said: ‘Thanks again for a cracking day yesterday mate.’
The account manager replied: ‘No worries at all fella was a pleasure getting to meet you.’
In January 2018, he handed Eaton a £100 bonus telling his client: ‘Coz you deserve it fella that’s why. I like to reward my players.’
Eaton replied: ‘I’m on a rotten run at the moment’. And his manager replied: ‘See you need to stop punting elsewhere and only with me and your bonuses will increase.’
The account records from Betsafe, which is owned by Swedish giant Betsson, show reams of friendly messages between Eaton and his gambling account manager
A week later the manager told Eaton he had given him a £200 bonus. Eaton replied: ‘nice one thanks mate,’ adding that he ‘had a horror show yesterday’. The account manager replied: ‘No worries at all fella. I had a good couple of bets but then went tits up’.
Last Monday at Leicester Crown Court, Eaton pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and one of false accounting, and has admitted taking between £170,000 and £180,000.
Prosecutors claim the fraud amounted to £248,418, meaning Judge Robert Brown may be required to conduct a trial of fact before Eaton can be sentenced.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, of Clean Up Gambling, said: ‘Tom Eaton is going to have to face up to what he did, but the companies he bet with have got off scot-free. We must pass tougher laws to ensure bookmakers with grooming VIP schemes don’t profit from stolen money spent on their sites.’
The Mail’s Stop The Gambling Predators campaign backs tighter regulations on the gambling industry, which makes £14.5billion in revenue each year.
Betsson declined to comment.
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