A New Jersey woman is accused of concocting a bogus identity theft claim in a bid to hide nearly $10,000 in debt she allegedly racked up through online gambling.
Diana Zolla, 31, of Jackson Township, was charged last Wednesday with theft by deception.
New Jersey State Police in January began investigating a complaint from Zolla alleging someone had used her maiden name to create an online gaming account. Zolla maintained her identity was stolen and insisted the $9,565 in gambling and banking fees accumulated did not belong to her, according to investigators.
Detectives, after reviewing banking, online gaming and Internet search provider records, concluded that Zolla was responsible for creating the account, police said. Zolla was arraigned and released pending a mandatory appearance in Atlantic County Superior Court.
"People who gamble online may be tempted to fabricate an identity theft complaint in order to avoid paying their debt," Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a statement. "This criminal activity can only make a bad situation worse."
A total of 291,625 online gaming accounts have been created since New Jersey legalized the activity in November 2013, according to a news release issued by state police. The industry continues to grow, with the creation of online gaming accounts rising 17 percent from February to March, state Division of Gaming Enforcement figures show.
Division of Gaming Enforcement director David Rebuck said in a statement that the agency will continue to work with police to root out fraud and "instill confidence in internet gaming operations for all involved."
"Suspicious transactions are thoroughly investigated, and as this case shows, attempts to defraud New Jersey casinos will not be tolerated," Rebuck said.