Casino reward cards have long been one of the perks of being a habitual gambler. One Arizona couple is accused of using a rewards program to scam a local casino out of about $27,000.
Mark Allen Lomayestewa, an employee of Casino Arizona, allegedly filed false player reports in his girlfriend's name to rack up rewards points, The Arizona Republic reports. Now, Lomayestewa and girlfriend Henrietta Wagner are facing federal charges for embezzlement and theft.
As part of his job with the casinos, Lomayestewa kept track of players' activities, including the amounts they wagered and the time they spent gambling, according to authorities. The information was then added to a database and reward points were awarded to the players accordingly.
In 2010, Lomayestewa allegedly set up a player's account under the name of his former girlfriend, Wagner. He then began submitting false player reports, indicating that Wagner was gambling when she actually wasn't, prosecutors assert. According to court documents, Lomayestewa altered his handwriting and used other employees' identification numbers to conceal his identity.
Reward points were credited to Wagner's account as a result of the falsified reports. The amounts earned were small enough to remain under the casino's radar for a time. However, over the course of a year or so the alleged embezzlement added up to more than $20,000, according to authorities.
Lomayestewa and Wagner are now facing federal charges for embezzlement and theft. They pleaded not guilty to the charges last month and are due back in court in the spring.
In general, embezzlement is defined as the theft of assets by a person who's been entrusted with those assets. Most commonly, it involves an employee stealing money from his employer, as is alleged in Lomayestewa's case. While Wagner obviously wasn't an employee of the casino, she allegedly received the stolen funds, which is a crime as well.