Posted on: November 2, 2022, 06:51h.
Last updated on: November 2, 2022, 07:29h.
A former betting industry professional who stole almost £20,000 (US$22,700) from his former friend, the British poker player Luke Brereton, has been spared a prison sentence.
Siddique, left, acquired his friend Luke Brereton’s bank details and drained his UK account before losing the money on sports betting. (Image: Cavendish Press/Casino.org)
Amer Siddique, 38, was handed 12-months of community service, with a requirement that he carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. That’s after he pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Chester Crown Court this week.
The theft took place in October 2018 when US-based Brereton returned to the UK to celebrate his birthday, according to court documents. During lunch together, Siddique booked a train ticket for Brereton using Brereton’s debit card, which allowed him to obtain his friend’s bank details.
Over the next three weeks, Siddique drained Brereton’s account of £19,399, which he plowed onto the William Hill sports betting platform, losing all the money.
Brereton is a successful player who has, to date, US$1.5 million in net tournament winnings, according to the Hendon Mob Database.
But having lived in America for the best part of a decade, his UK bank account contained only £19,700, leaving him with just £300.
‘Mate, I F***ed Up’
Only after he returned to the US did Brereton realize something was wrong. He called the bank to ask it to put a stop on the card.
Then, on November 16, he received the following WhatsApp message from Siddique.
“Mate, I f***ed up. I will pay it back. Gambling got out of hand. I f***ed up.”
Brereton gave Siddique numerous opportunities to repay the money. But his messages were ignored and he was blocked on social media, according to prosecutors. The poker pro has not received a penny to this day, court records show. He launched civil proceedings and contacted law enforcement in the UK.
I’m heartbroken as Amer was such a close friend,” Brereton said in a statement to British police. “I consider myself a loyal and trustworthy person, but I feel this was misplaced with him.
“Being a professional poker player may seem to an outsider to be easy money, but it’s not. I have worked very hard to develop and keep a hold of it, and it takes years of building and sacrifice. The money in that bank account was my entire UK net worth.”
In mitigation, Saddique’s lawyer, Julian Farley, said his client had been undergoing treatment for a gambling disorder and planned to repay the money, having started a new job.
“He clearly regrets what has happened. It is an unpleasant offense to do that to a friend, and he knows that,” Farley said. “He has let himself and his family down and he has lost a lifetime friend he has enjoyed spending time with.”
Siddique’s career saw him working at William Hill and Sky Betting & Gaming before moving to Bet365 as a sports trader, according to his now-defunct LinkedIn page.