|An Akron man allegedly defrauded eBay customers to fund his Internet casino habit. After losing large sums of his own money, Bernard Felber continued to gamble by using the checking accounts of people who purchased items from him on eBay, police said. |
Felber, 61, is accused of losing more than $25,000 of other people's money in three months gambling at online casinos.
Akron police Detective Stan Smith said Felber admitted using the checking accounts for online gambling. Felber was charged with identity fraud.
'I deal with high-technology crime for the department, including online auction fraud and Internet pornography, but this one really surprises me,' Smith said.
According to Smith, Felber bought books, dog leashes and dog collars from vendors, then advertised them on eBay. People from around the country would send personal checks for the items.
Felber would open an account on a casino Web site, using his name and identification. He would use the numbers from the eBay buyers' checks to establish lines of credit.
Several casino Web sites use a pay service based in the British Virgin Islands that allows a maximum of $500 to be spent from a checking account. 'He would use every penny of the $500, and he would get another account from another eBay customer and start over again,' Smith said.
Victims began contacting police after their bank statements showed a $500 withdrawal by the pay service. The banks contacted the pay service and learned that Felber had set up the account, Smith said. He said he was contacted by a man in Vancouver, Wash., in August. It took several months to reach officials in the Virgin Islands and have the pay service release the accounts opened by Felber.
Felber is charged with spending $25,250 from July 27 through Oct. 31. Police took his computer and records from his home, Smith said.
Police have been contacting banks, which have reimbursed their customers the $500 but may seek restitution from Felber, Smith said.
According to Smith, Felber said that he had lost around $100,000 at online casinos.