Five residents of New York have been accused of fraudulently acquiring a sum of $1.12m from casinos operating in Atlantic City allegedly by way of fake checks. Reports indicate that the suspects have been obtaining the money by allegedly depositing fake bank checks to casinos; gambling operators receive money deposits which is a requirement before players are awarded casino chips.
It is believed that the theft took place between August 26 and August 28 2021 during which time the accused persons took advantage of five Atlantic City casinos. These reports have been confirmed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office through an announcement which was made a few days ago.
Multiple casinos affected in the sophisticated fraud scheme
Caesars Atlantic City, the Borgata and Ocean Casino Resort are some of the big casino players that have been affected by this theft scheme; each of the 3 operators honored checks worth $284,000. The other casino victims are Golden Nugget and the Hard Rock which individually lost $134,000. The well-orchestrated casino theft syndicate involved two ladies, Xiuhuan Zhang and Qingtao Zhang whose role was to present checks to the respective casinos.
When giving out the details of the charges drawn for the five suspects, Andrew Bruck who is the Acting Attorney General said that the suspects in the financial theft scheme case were being sort after for their involvement in the said crimes. The financial scheme involves various casinos with gambling operations in the state of New Jersey and which have since lost more than 1 million dollars by way of fraudulent checks.
Suspects still at large
According to results of the investigation which is still ongoing, the defendants had cooked up a scheme which entailed depositing two fake checks at each of the target casinos; one for $150,000 and another for $134,000. The checks were meant to portray the perception that the money was being paid from accounts in either TD bank or Bank of America. The cash office at the Hard Rock casino declined the check of $150,000 while Golden Nugget casino agreed to offer the suspect incremental amounts upon cashing the check; this explains why the casinos both lost $134,000 while the other three sank $284,000.
One of the suspects in the case, Qingtao Zhang, was arrested and has been detained in Amsterdam since September. The remaining four suspects are still at large but the authorities have already established their identities; Sen Ge, Xiuhuan Zhang, Peng Cai, and Shuai Liu. The authorities have also confirmed that the five suspects have been found culpable of the crimes leveled against them and that is why their warrants of arrests are still outstanding.
This does not however rule out the involvement of other people in administrating the criminal activities involving theft of funds from casinos in AC. The prosecutor has revealed that the investigating officers are following leads on other people to find out if and how deep their involvement is.
A special unit has been tasked with investigating gambling related crimes committed within the state of New Jersey. The joint team drawn from the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau and the New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau are exploring all possibilities in uncovering the case truth.
Just last week, an indictment issued by an Atlantic County grand jury, reveals that the suspects mentioned in the case will be charged with second degree conspiracy. They will also be charged with theft through deceptive means and this will be broken down to the number of instances they executed theft in this manner.
Commenting on the effort that has already been invested in running the investigation, the New Jersey State Police Superintendent has confirmed that Qingtao Zhang was indeed arrested in the Netherlands. Colonel Patrick J. Callahan considers the arrest to be a demonstration of the premier relationship that exists between the police department of New Jersey and law enforcement agencies around the world. Callahan assures the public that justice will always be served regardless of the distance that must be covered to achieve it.
The New Jersey penal code stipulates that second degree charges of a financial fraud nature attract a prison sentence of a minimum of five years and not more than a maximum of ten years. If they are slapped with a fine instead, they will be required to part with any amount up to $150,000.
The loopholes in the casino payment system
Casinos are frequented by people who are in the mood to spend money and sometimes some loopholes get overlooked. While it is not normal for someone to walk around with cash so as to spend at pleasure, incredibly large amounts are bound to raise eyebrows. The recent casino theft syndicate is a call for an overhaul of the cash deposit system in casinos. It could be a good idea for casinos to ask their high flyer customers to provide more secure money transfer options. Perhaps a credit card could do or a direct money transfer from the client’s bank account.
Sometimes there is urgency in both parties involved such that they feel that they should strike when the iron is hot. This is understandable on the part of casinos which are in it for the profit. On the part of the customer, a slight delay could not only save casinos unnecessary loss but all grant the owner a few seconds of thinking over their decision to invest such a huge load of money.
It is a good thing that the suspects have already been identified and are being rounded up. The sentence or punishment they will receive for their crimes will set the pace for future conduct around casinos. At the end of the day, casinos have a right to operate in a free and fair environment that does not include fraud risk from alleged customers.