New Hampshire Man Loses Life Savings on a Carnival Game

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Henry Gibbohm Jr.
WMUR News 9Henry Gibbohm Jr.
Carnies get a bad rap, and this sort of thing is why: A New Hampshire man says he lost $2,600, which he describes as his life savings, on a carnival game called Tubs of Fun. He was trying to win an Xbox Kinect and show his kids a good time, he says; he wound up winning only a giant stuffed banana sporting dreadlocks and a Rasta hat.

Henry Gibbohm Jr. of Epsom, N.H, went to the carnival in Manchester on Saturday night. He says an employee enticed him into playing the game, which involves tossing balls into a bucket without having them bounce back out.

It was easy at first, said Gibbohm, 30, but after a practice round, the game became suspiciously more difficult. "The ball just bounces right out," Gibbohm told WMUR News 9, "there's really no way of doing it. But when you're throwing it in at first, I mean it just sinks right in. There's no issue at all. You get eight balls, seven mistakes ... It's foolproof, there's no way."

The carnival worker deceived him, Gibbohm said: "The guy's telling me, 'Just keep people interested, man. I'll give you your money back.'"

Gibbohm told WBZ-TV he repeatedly went double-or-nothing in an attempt to recoup his losses. After burning through $300 in a matter of minutes, he drove home to get $2,300 in cash.

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But it didn't work. Gribbohm was unable to win the game, and New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Paul Feely explains why this might have been so. Citing a book called "Carnival Fraud 101," Feely writes that "the 'Tubs of Fun' game features plastic 'muck' buckets from home improvement stores so that the ball gets extra bounce. From inside the booth, the worker tosses a softball and from his vantage point, it stays inside the tub. Then he gives you the second softball for a practice throw -- and it stays in for a win."

The weight of the first ball dampens the bottom of the bucket, preventing practice tosses from bouncing out. But the carnival worker removes both balls and hands them to the player, once the fee for the game has been payed ($5 for two balls, according to the Union Leader). Now, keeping a toss in the bucket is virtually impossible.

When he went back the next day to complain, Gibbohm says, he was given back only $600 and the Rasta banana. He filed a police report, alleging fraud. The company that operates the carnival, Fiesta Shows, has said that Gibbohm spent far less than $2,600, a claim he rejects. Detectives have so far been unable to locate the game operator in question.

Man Loses Life Savings in a Carnival Game

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