Counterfeit Coins for Vending Machines

Slugs are counterfeit coins or other objects similar in size, shape, and weight that are used in place of actual money to illegally deceive vending machines.

Photo by: midorisyu

Photo by: midorisyu

Tricking the candy machines

Over 30 years ago, washers were used often to trick vending machines to release a yummy treat or toy. Additionally, many children over the years have tried to use a penny in quarter machines, only to have it get jammed and not get a toy or treat in the end. These were wrong, almost harmless acts done by mischievous kids; however this act of fooling machines has gotten out of hand.

Moving up in the world

There are many machines nowadays that use coins besides candy vending machines. Slot machines, retail self-checkout tellers, and fare teller machines are a few example of equipment that holds a higher value prize than a .10 cent gumdrop. While using slugs or counterfeit coins in any machine is against the law, cheating one of these higher roller devices can cost the business or machine owner an incredible amount of cash.

New Technology

As we neared the 90’s, vending and other dispense machine owners and creators realized how easily their devices were being taken advantage of. They answered by developing new technology such as: sensors that verify the image on the coin and instruments that test the magnetic sensitivity of the type of metal. Counter measures such as these have helped prevent slugs from being used successfully, but it is still a widespread practice today.

Charges for using slugs

Whether someone is tricking quarter machines or slot machines, there are charges for deliberately defrauding any type of coin equipment by using slugs versus actual coinage. Utah code 76-5-515 states that using, making, or possessing slugs or counterfeit coins punishable by law as a class B misdemeanor. For those who are facing charges for using counterfeit coins, whether intentionally or innocently, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Bribing Athletes

Gambling on sports is an illegal activity in 46 states including Utah but bribing athletes is illegal in all 50. Utah Code 76-6-514 states that it is a 3rd degree felony for a person to influence, bribe, or threaten a participant to intentionally not perform properly in their “publicly exhibited contest”.

Photo by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Photo by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Increasing your chances for winning, illegally

Knowing the sport and being educated in the stats of each player can help increase a gambler’s odds when placing a bet, but their chances of winning are still slim. More money is lost than gained in sports gambling, otherwise it wouldn’t be such a profitable business for bookies. When knowledge and luck don’t pan out for bettors and they’re left with gambling debt, some may turn toward influencing or bribing athletes.

Rigging a match to lose

According to Collins English Dictionary; “arranging the outcome of a sports match prior to its being played” is known as match fixing. It’s easier to ensure a loss of points or a whole game than to guarantee a win. This is why players are bribed with a hefty payout to throw a game or not do their best while the gamblers knowingly put their money on the opposite team. All athletic events are vulnerable to this illegal activity. Horse racing, cricket, snooker, and basketball tend to be the sports that see match fixing more often. This is because only one jockey or one player, not the entire team, is needed to rig the outcome in favor of the gambler.

Shaving points

Betting on sports doesn’t always involve selecting a winning team. Bookkeepers don’t want all the bets placed on one team or the other. This leaves bookies with a 50/50 chance of losing, so they started what’s known as the point spread. The point spread allows bettors to bet that their team will win by a certain number of points. As long as their team wins by that chosen number or more they win. If they win but it is by less than the chosen number, the bettor loses. With point shaving, which team wins or loses won’t be changed. Instead the athlete or sometimes an official who has been bribed will make sure that the team doesn’t win within a certain point spread that is expected by the majority. This leaves the briber opportunity to bet on the opposing team to lose by fewer points.

Motives for athletes

Besides money, there are other reasons why players will purposely throw or tank a match or a game. Not winning a game during certain times in the season can benefit a team’s standings in playoffs. Losing these specific games can also give teams a better schedule for the following year and allow them a better pick of new players as well. Sometimes, who wins doesn’t matter to either side so teams will agree to tie.

Famous Bribery Scandals

Match fixing is a world-wide problem and there are a couple well-known stories that took place in the United States. In 1919, the White Sox threw the World Series (Black Sox Scandal) and although they were not found guilty, those suspected players were never again allowed to play baseball in the major leagues. More recently in 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to over a year in prison for working with the mob, giving them tips on games he was the officiator for. These individuals, and any others who have been caught match fixing have blemished their names forever in the history of sports.

Not worth the bet

Whatever the reason, the ramifications of losing games or points on purpose is against the rules and players risk being suspended, having their reputations tarnished, or worse; being banned from every playing the game again. The players along with influencing gamblers also risk felony charges if there is money exchanged for bribes. For athletes who have found themselves caught up in a match fixing scene or for gamblers who took things a little too far by bribing athletes, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be hired to advocate on their behalf.

Retail Theft in Utah

Retail theft is a growing problem in Utah and other states around the nation.  Shoplifting from any store is against the law, yet many do this knowingly as they either can’t afford an item, or they seek the thrill of the crime.  For whatever reason, these individuals are knowingly committing retail theft.  Besides shoplifting, there are other definitions by law of retail theft that shoppers need to be aware of.

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Sales at the self-checkout lane

With self-checkout stations becoming more common in stores, it isn’t rare for customers to scan or type in cheaper items than the ones they are taking home.  Ringing in a .50 cent avocado instead of the larger $1 one is still considered retail theft.  This may be done intentionally, or it may be by accident.  Shoppers need to be certain that they are paying the correct price for an item, or find an employee to help.

Price, what price?

Bargain hunters have been known to challenge an overpriced item, only to remove the price tag hoping for a better deal once they reach the register.  According to Utah Code 76-6-602, this deception is considered retail theft, just like shoplifting.  A better solution would take your disputed item with price tag intact to the customer service desk or manager.  It isn’t unusual for them to agree to a lower price to keep a customer happy.

Retail theft isn’t worth it

Depending on the price of the appropriated item and how many previous retail theft offenses a suspect has had, the criminal charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.  It doesn’t stop there.  Beyond the criminal charges, stores can likewise file a civil suit for up to $1,000 as a penalty, even after getting their stolen items returned.  If you are facing criminal or civil charges for retail theft, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options on how to proceed with the charges.