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Australian Thief Blew $3 Million on Poker Machines

12 February 2002

AUSTRALIA – As reported by the (Australia) Herald Sun: "A gambler with an addiction to poker machines lost an average of $1200 (US$611) a day for 10 years, a court heard yesterday.

"By the time 44-year-old Magdi Atalla was caught he had stolen more than $4.3 million (US$2.3 million) from his employer - and lost it all.

"The insurance claims supervisor said he lost $3 million (US$1.5 million) on pokies and the rest at the casino, at TABs and on Tattslotto tickets while working at rural giant Wesfarmers.

"…He had deposited 1003 insurance claim cheques into trust accounts he had created between September 1991 until November 2000.

"…Atalla's gambling habit escalated from 1991 when he ran up huge debts on his 20 or so credit cards.

"He re-mortgaged his house and then, when the losses increased, he stole from the company he had worked for since he was 17.

"…Judge Neesham asked whether Atalla could be defined as a compulsive gambler because he had stopped for seven years after he married in 1981.

"But he said it appeared perhaps self-evident that it was a pathological addiction, considering that Atalla had lost an average of $1200 a day every day for 10 years.

",,,Atalla, who pleaded guilty to 15 counts of obtaining property by deception, was released on bail…"

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