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Secret gambling addiction at heart of church fraud

26 September 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell -

A problem gambling advocate says the jailing of a church accountant, who stole $1.6 million to feed a gambling habit, proves it is a hidden addiction that can affect anyone.

Elizabeth Papu, a 52-year-old who worked for the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church, will spend two years behind bars for stealing money and altering the church's records. 

The Problem Gambling Foundation's Pesio Ah Honi Siitia says Pacific families, friends or colleagues should speak up and get help if they know someone with a gambling problem. 

"Problem gambling does not discriminate, it affects everyone from all social levels. Not only the factory worker but also CEOs and accountants," she says. "Most of the cases we see is of people who've never committed a crime before."