- Deget Lane and Dexter Rhodes were arrested for running an illegal online bingo scheme via Facebook.
- The couple face over 300 counts of illegally conducting an unsanctioned lottery.
- Bail has been set at $1,000 per count for Lane.
HAINES CITY, Fla. – An interesting twist in the online bingo world has occurred, as a Florida couple was arrested for illegally running an online bingo scheme through Facebook.
33-year-old Dexter Rhodes and 27-year-old Deget Lane are the alleged culprits in the scam, accused of setting up, promoting, and conducting the illegal lottery event.
Police say the scam had been running since April when the city was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, accumulating in over 300 counts of illegal activity.
The USA online bingo scam was being run through the popular Lavish Life Bingo Facebook page. Facebook users would enter the page thinking they were playing an official bingo game.
The pair from Polk County would have users pay as much as $45 to enter the event. Lane and Rhodes would then use a bingo app that would randomly pick the winners of the event.
The pair would actually pay out winnings, motivating participants to come back. Grand prizes would be up to $500, and the couple would pocket the remainder of the money garnered from “donations.”
“It was all set up on Facebook. People could get online and play, what they thought they were going to play, Bingo,” said Jim Elensky, Haines City Police Chief. “They would make several hundred dollars in three minutes, three minutes for a game and then your prize was usually $500 less than that. So quickly they would pocket $500.”
The Facebook page would instruct participants to send their donations through Cash App, Zelle, or Venmo. Police say the use of the word “donations" was created to hide their illegal activity.
“(With) bingo, you have to have a 501(3)(c) license which they do not have,” said Chief Elensky. “A lottery is set up much like the lottery you’re familiar with in the State of Florida. It is a profit-making machine. Bingo, you’re not allowed to make a profit.”
As bingo is only allowed for charity events in Florida, so the couple making a profit from the events categorizes it as an illegal lottery.
Due to his criminal history, Rhodes is being held without bond. Lane's is being held on $1,000 per count bond with 251 counts.
It's safe to say that anyone looking to find legal USA online gambling should do their research before participating.