Believe it or not, it's not my famed Savannah move. It's actually a move that married identity theft to casino cheating. If you want to read the whole story, it's in my book "The World's Greatest Gambling Scams." But here's a brief description as to how it was pulled off:
THE CASINO IDENTITY THEFT CREDIT SCAM
Why is this the best scam of all time? Well, if casinos just give you millions of dollars and you don’t have to do anything, I’d say that that could never be beat!
Ever dream of walking into a casino, signing a marker for a hundred thousand dollars in credit, getting the chips, cashing them out and never having to worry about paying it back? It’s easy. Just takes a little ingenuity, criminal genius and big balls.
It’s part of today’s biggest scam. Identity theft. The Roselli brothers from Monmouth, New Jersey, pulled off a beauty in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico that began in the mid ’90s and lasted until January 2000. How’d they do it? They hired a computer hacker to break into the nation’s credit data systems, then pilfered the credit histories of certain Americans (and foreigners) having outstanding credit ratings and several accounts. Then after opening new accounts in these people’s names, the Roselli brothers applied to the credit departments of the major casinos in all three gambling capitals. They were told that stable cash balances had to be maintained in bank accounts for a minimum of six months before casinos would establish credit. No problem. The Roselli brothers, already career gangsters with fat bankrolls, had plenty of money to work with. They opened accounts in several names and stuck fifty grand in each of them. Six months later virtually all the major casinos gave them fifty-thousand-dollar credit lines in the name of each fraudulent account they had established with the banks.
The Rosellis alternated their scam between Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico every weekend for more than five years. They were completely comped in style for everything: penthouse suites, gourmet meals, Dom Pérignon, you name it. They signed markers, got their chips, then used “offset” betting procedures to make the pit bosses believe they were losing all their chips while cohorts were winning them on the other side of baccarat and craps tables. Then with the same fidelity an honorable person returns his books to the library on time, the Rosellis promptly paid their outstanding markers. This got their credit lines jacked up, since they showed tons of action and paid their markers within a few days of leaving the casinos, a gesture just loved by casino credit departments. The fifty-thousand-dollar casino credit lines soon became a hundred thousand, then two hundred thousand, then half a million, and even a million in some of the classiest casino megaresorts. And the Rosellis kept on signing, playing, signing and playing, all the while giving the impression of losing big. Naturally their operation became complex and employed dozens of loyal associates from New Jersey, but as long as the casino bosses never caught on to the fact that each Roselli was more than one person, they would never know they were being victimized in the biggest casino credit scam in history.
It was ballsy, at times incredibly hairy, but the brothers pulled it off. New Year’s weekend, 2000, they showed up in Vegas for the last time. They planned on beginning the new millennium with a bang. They made the rounds of casinos in which they had big credit lines in fifty names, carefully working each shift (day, swing and graveyard) as to avoid running into pit bosses who might address them with a name different from the one they were using at that moment to sign markers. Then after spreading their false gambling action all over town, with bets as high as $100,000 per hand, they absconded with the chips never to be seen again.
Total take: $37 million. And the real beauty of it was that neither the casinos, the FBI nor the US Secret Service realized a scam had taken place until six months later. First the casinos sent polite reminders to the addresses (real apartments in upscale neighborhoods) the Rosellis had set up for the scam, asking for payment of the markers. Then when those went unanswered they turned to dunning letters demanding payment or else there would be legal action. Next came phone calls from their credit departments, but they fell upon professional answering services unwittingly picking up the phones for fraudulent businesses. And they called again and again—more letters, too, even certified, but no one ever answered the door for the mailmen. All that took six months before the FBI was finally alerted. By that time the Roselli brothers were lying on a beach somewhere very far from American casinos.
And one last detail: The Roselli brothers didn’t exist either. The real Roselli brothers whose ID they thieved died long before their scam was conceived. So in fact, the FBI and Secret Service have no idea who they’re looking for. But I do. They’re looking for shadows.