Old School Bookie collects Using New Age Means.


Dormant account
May 7, 2004
The following story was run in the New York Daily News on Thursday, December 14th. The author, Denis Hamill, spins a good yarn about a New York City bookie who apparently does not have heart made of ice, yet knows how to collect outstanding debt using alternate means when he has to.



MySpace or yours?

What I love about the computer age is that a new Internet scam pops up every day. We all know about the Nigerian gent who wants to give me, just me, millions in diamond mine stock.

Last week I got one from the "IRS" saying it would direct-deposit an old, unclaimed refund if I gave it all my banking access codes.

Then the other day I heard a story about a new Internet scam where a criminal scammed a scammer.

As the year ticked down, a guy we'll call Ben the Bookie wanted to balance his crooked books. He especially wanted to find a deadbeat named Rob who had owed him five grand since the Mets lost in the playoffs.

It wasn't the money so much as the audacity of Rob basically flipping Ben the bird and thinking he could get away without paying. It made Ben look weak and might encourage others to stiff him.

Ben had been taking action in a certain Brooklyn gin mill for years. He was usually patient with working guys who got in over their heads. He'd stop taking their action and let them pay him off in installments.

He was especially lenient with married guys with kids who joined Gamblers' Anonymous. Ben regarded himself as a reasonable bookie if you at least came to him with a good story and a few bucks. He didn't want to break up a family because the Giants blew a 21-0 lead. "A gesture means everything," Ben always said.

But Ben couldn't accept arrogant deadbeats. "It's like spittin' in my face," he said. Especially gamblers like Rob who haunted him to get paid when they won but who disappeared after he bet five K on the Mets in the last game of the National League Championship Series. And then changed his cell number and moved out of Brooklyn.

Ben hated violence. It was bad for business. Sometimes he let losers satisfy their debts by strong-arming for him. No real violence, just debt collection. He liked to think of himself as a gentleman doing nothing worse than what OTB was doing.

Ben laid off his action to an offshore gambling book in the islands. As a result, he'd become fairly computer-savvy. As he took action in the Brooklyn tavern, he started hearing young guys talk about sizzling-hot babes they'd met on something called MySpace, which was like a cyber singles cruise to nowhere.

Every guy and gal old enough to be served a ****tail seemed to have a MySpace profile that they were using to hook up with people from all over the city and the country. Ben remembered Rob the deadbeat bragging about all the babes he met on MySpace.

And the wing bone from the bird Rob flipped him was still caught in Ben's throat.

So one day in November when he was on his computer, Ben went to MySpace. When he typed in Rob's name, sure enough, his profile popped up.

Ben's girlfriend had a lot of good-looking young friends; she borrowed some bikini shots from one of the prettiest, most buxom blonds.

Then Ben created a profile for Cindy from Cincinnati, posted the inviting photos and started chatting to Rob at his MySpace address.

"Cindy" told Rob she was a displaced, homesick New Yorker, that she liked his picture, and that they enjoyed the same things - the Mets, the Jets, the Knicks, clubbing, Italian restaurants and nights at the tables in Vegas and Atlantic City.

They chatted online for a few weeks. Finally Rob said that if Cindy ever got into New York, maybe they could hook up. Cindy wrote back that she would be in New York the following week on a two-day layover, staying with a friend in Williamsburg, and wouldn't mind meeting for a drink.

Rob wrote that he'd just won a bundle on the Jets - maybe they could drive down to Atlantic City for the night.

Cindy chatted back, saying he was getting ahead of himself. "Let's just meet for the drink and see what happens," she wrote, and suggested a bar on a side street in Williamsburg.

The next week, Rob walked down the shadowy side street to the bar Cindy had picked, pockets filled with cash in hopes of an AC fling with the hot babe.

Then he heard the footsteps of a large man behind him.

Then the back door of a Cadillac parked ahead of him opened and another large man stepped out.

The two big men ushered Rob into the back seat of the Cadillac. "Merry Christmas, Rob," said Ben. "Remember me? I'm Cindy from Cincinnati. Welcome to my space."

Rob went home penniless.

Ben scratched one deadbeat from his list. And went looking for the rest on MySpace.

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