Feds Bust Ring of Alleged Casino Cheaters

By Kevin Poulsen EmailFebruary 11, 2009 | 6:36:30 PMCategories: Hacks and Cracks  

Roulette Federal prosecutors in Tacoma, Washington are charging four alleged members of a cheating ring that hit roulette tables at three Indian casinos before being arrested last November.

The men are accused of pulling a simple scam that takes advantage of the variably-colored “non-value chips” issued at roulette tables to identify different gamers’ bets. Every player at the table is assigned one of eight colors. The chips have a default value of $1 each, but a high roller who wants to bet more on each spin can ask the croupier to count his chips at a higher value, such as $25.

In a series of visits to Washington Indian casinos last fall, one member of the gang would play at the $1 level, while slipping the no-value chips into his pocket, the FBI says. Security cameras captured one of the men heading to the men’s room, where the government believes he passed a stack of 60 chips to a confederate — one Jorge Armando Acosta — before returning to the table and cashing out.

Acosta then approached the same table and got chips of the same color, but played them at $25 a chip, according to an FBI affidavit (.pdf). He allegedly worked his pocketed chips into the game, and eventually cashed out, earning $24 profit for each chip.

The gang allegedly scored $11,520 in eight visits to the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma over four days in late October, before moving on to the Clearwater Casino, where alert security staff detected the suspicious activity and briefly backroomed the shifty crew. They showed up at the Snoqualmie casino on November 10 and were busted again. This time they were arrested.

Acosta, Federico Ricardo Fermin, Marcos Antonio Peynado and Joan Manuel Jimenez Cordero are all charged in a criminal complaint with Theft of Funds from a Gaming Establishment on Indian Lands. Fermin, Peynado and Cordero allegedly participated by playing at the table with non-value chips of different colors, to help ensure that the money player would get the color he needed. They’re also suspected of serving as “blockers” in the scam, shielding the other players from the casino’s surveillance — poorly, it seems.

Original Article

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