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Casino Crime Watch: $700K Heist, Baccarat Scam, Guilty In Colorado

A Look At Some Recent Cases Around The U.S.

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As buildings filled with cash, casinos are regular targets for those looking to score some easy money via scams and capers. The last few weeks have seen some interesting incidents that featured alleged thieves making off with some truly big bucks. Here’s a look at some of the more unique cases.

Fake Phone Call Nets $700K

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, federal officials are prosecuting Jesus Gaytan-Garcia for theft of more than $700,000 from the Four Winds Casino, which is owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Prosecutors allege that Gaytan-Garcia called the casino last July claiming to be the tribal chairperson and needed the cash quickly. A supervisor apparently believed the story and delivered $700,000 to a gas station in Gary, Indiana, and handed it over to two men.

“The amount of money involved in this theft is extraordinary,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said. “Unfortunately, instances of telephone scams at casinos are on the rise across the country, impacting both tribal and commercial gaming operations. Thanks to the dedicated, joint investigation of Pokagon Tribal police and the FBI, we were able to identify and arrest one of the perpetrators of this scheme.”

Baccarat Scam Scores $300K

Another six-figure scam was also recently uncovered at the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Police allege a player named Qingyong Zhang “thumbed” the corners of cards at a baccarat table and recorded the cards with his phone.

Zhang then allegedly utilized a team of five other participants to make correct bets on the game using the marked cards. The suspect and an accomplice got away, apparently with the cash, while four others were arrested.

One suspect told police the group used a similar system at other casinos and Zhang paid members $5,000 each. They now face felony corrupt organizations charges.

Man Pleads Guilty To $500K Theft

A man involved in one of Colorado’s largest casino thefts in decades pleaded guilty last week. The $500,000 theft occurred on March 12 of last year at Monarch Casino in Black Hawk.

Police say Juan Ivan Gutierrez Zambrano, 32, was paid to secure boxes of stolen cash from a former employee of the casino – Sabrina Eddy, 45. Zambrano pleaded guilty to felony criminal mischief and may be deported to Mexico.

Eddy is expected to face a jury trial in August. Chief Deputy District Attorney Brenna Zortman said “Zambrano accepted the stolen cash from Eddy after Eddy loaded bricks of $50,000 in cash into boxes in the middle of the night while working as a cage cashier at the casino,” according to the Denver Post.

Prosecutors allege Eddy claimed she’d been scammed via a phone call, as seen at the Four Winds, to deliver the funds to someone with the company. Authorities now believe that was untrue.