Henry Gribbohm is apparently irate. He went to a carnival and played Tubs of Fun hoping to win an Xbox Kinect. The 30-year-old man from New Hampshire continued to play until he had spent his entire life savings, $2,600, in a game that he now claims is rigged. When he complained the next day, he was given $600 back plus an over-sized banana. He was not satisfied and has filed a complaint.
First, I will admit that I have always wondered why the clearly rigged games at carnivals was not a violation of state law. Some games are simply overtly difficult like tossing rings over the top of bottles. That is fine. However, there are many other games which have miscalibrated or altered equipment from shooting games to throwing games. It is the stereotype of the Carny but it can also be fraud if the equipment is intentionally tampered with.
Second, and more importantly, most of us have been clipped by Carnies at one time or another for $5 or $20. However, only a fool would pour almost 3 thousand dollars into a carnival game in the hopes of winning X-Box Kinect that you can buy for $150. In this case, Gribbolm lost $300 in the first few minutes and then ran home and got his life savings to continue to play. He said that the balls kept bouncing out of the tub.
Gribbohm insists “It’s not possible that it wasn’t rigged.” Putting aside the double negative, there still remains that problem of running home to get your life’s savings, but Gribbohm explained “You just get caught up in the whole ‘I’ve got to win my money back.’” Well, not everyone, Henry. We tend to get ripped off and stop short of running for the family’s nest egg to resume the fight with the laughing carny.
Here is the New Hampshire provision on theft by deception, which could be a good fit if there was something wicked in the Tub of Fun:
637:4 Theft By Deception
Last revised 1971 § Leave a Comment
I. A person commits theft if he obtains or exercises control over property of another by deception and with a purpose to deprive him thereof.
II. For the purposes of this section, deception occurs when a person purposely:
(a) Creates or reinforces an impression which is false and which that person does not believe to be true, including false impressions as to law, value, knowledge, opinion, intention or other state of mind. Provided, however, that an intention not to perform a promise, or knowledge that it will not be performed, shall not be inferred from the fact alone that the promise was not performed; or
(b) Fails to correct a false impression which he previously had created or reinforced and which he did not believe to be true, or which he knows to be influencing another to whom he stands in a fiduciary or confidential relationship; or
(c) Prevents another from acquiring information which is pertinent to the disposition of the property involved; or
(d) Fails to disclose a known lien, adverse claim or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of property which he transfers or encumbers in consideration for the property obtained, whether such impediment is or is not valid, or is or is not a matter of official record; or
(e) Misrepresents to or misleads any person, in any manner, so as to make that person believe that the person on whose behalf a solicitation or sales promotion is being conducted is a charitable trust or that the proceeds of such solicitation or sales promotion shall be used for charitable purposes, if such is not the fact.
III. Theft by deception does not occur, however, when there is only falsity as to matters having no pecuniary significance, or puffing by statements unlikely to deceive ordinary persons in the group addressed. “Puffing” means an exaggerated commendation of wares in communications addressed to the public or to a class or group.
IV. A person commits theft under this section notwithstanding that the victim has suffered no actual or net pecuniary loss.
The alleged rip-off artist works for New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows. Fiesta is investigating, but the carnival has moved on to Dover while police investigate.