Finland’s Online Teen Fraudster Gets A Suspended Sentence

dictionary definition of suspended sentence

In a surprising twist, a young fraudster from Finland who swindled an estimated €250,000 (£225,000; $289,000) out of a Malta-based gambling site has been given a relatively low suspended sentence.

At just 16 years old, the tech-savvy teenager discovered a loophole that allowed him to siphon off requested returns into his and his parents’ bank accounts.

The glitch

The teenager, from Forssa, in Finland, discovered that he could defraud the unnamed gambling site during a requested transaction return and instead, pocket the cash himself. This glitch allowed him to cancel other gamblers’ withdrawal requests and redirect the outgoing money to his online wallet.

The plan worked for around two months in April and May 2017 before a member of staff noticed the frequent blocking of transactions and linked the two together.

It was reported that, over a month-long period, the youngster intercepted 147 withdrawal requests to the value of €250,000 (£225,000; $289,000) before a member of staff noticed the theft in June 2017.

Details about the specific casino are being kept under wraps for legal reasons, but it is thought that the glitch has now been patched so that no other loopholes can be exploited. Last month we reported on the initial findings.

Involving the parents

In an incredible twist, the youngster included his parents in the scam. The father was sentenced last week at Häme District Court, where he was convicted of aggravated money laundering and ordered to repay €14,500 (£13,099; $16,740) that had been found in his account.

The boy’s mother was found guilty of the lesser charge of money laundering. She has been ordered to repay €2,300 (£2,077; $2,663) and €5,000 (£4,516; $5,790) for a motorbike purchased with the cash.

The parents were both also given judicial sentences, receiving five-month and 60-day suspended sentences each.

Suspended sentence

Despite the teenager now being over the age of 18, he, his parents and the casino have all been granted anonymity, as the offenses took place when he was just 16.

His eventual punishment was a suspended sentence of 20 months, plus he was also ordered to repay €132,000 as well as an additional €3,000 to cover the gambling operator’s legal fees.

However, there are differing opinions as to whether this sentence was too lenient, or an apt possibility to turn over a new leaf.

Opinions

When asked if the sentence was fair, Kristian Stuart from London said: “Not a chance for me. Isn’t that conviction removed from their record two years from conviction? If they’re applying for a job in 24 months, that employer will have no idea they stole a quarter of a million euros from a casino AND they’re serving no time.

“Where’s the deterrent? The person who is 16 is well aware what they’re doing is wrong. If they succeed (regardless of how unlikely that might be), they’re €250,000 richer. If they’re caught and convicted and don’t re-convict it’s like they’ve done nothing in 24 months.

“I’ve assumed that’s the case based on UK law. If you’ve quoted euros it may be that the conviction is slightly different in their country. If that’s the case it ultimately depends on the laws in that country.”

Ariel Carson, also from London, believed that while a suspended sentence was apt, it should have been for longer. He said: “I think a suspended sentence was right but should have been for longer, lasting until the teenager was 21. Giving him five years to turn his talents to a positive use – furthering his education, building a business, volunteering to help good causes.”

However, for Tom Bourlet, from Brighton, he believed that the sentence was just, given the receiver was a gambling operator. He said: “That is a long enough sentence considering the age I reckon, but I would focus on redemption and nurturing the abilities of a talented teenager who has made a big mistake. Also… he robbed a gambling company. They are hardly the pinnacle of ethical nature.”