Wednesday, July 22, 2009

$300,000 Slot Machine Cheat Scam at Gulfstream Blamed on Internal "Uncontrol"

Back in the summer of 2007, a group of employees and a supervisor at Gulfstream Park Casino in Hallendale, Florida manipulated computer software to steal $300,000 in slot machine winnings by using cards that allowed them to play for free. The case began in September 2007, when Gulfstream employees caught Sarfranz Janjua of Miami playing slots for free using a card that was only for use by employees to test the machines. Investigators soon linked him to Danny Feliciano, a lead slots technician at Gulfstream, who gave Janjua the test cards to play and who shared in the winnings. Feliciano pleaded guilty to organized fraud and cheating in February and is serving 30 months of probation. Janjua pleaded guilty to petty theft in June 2008 and served a year of probation.

The casino caught another employee, host Steve Dorman, with 17 promotional cards, which are free play cards usually issued as customer appreciation rewards or marketing tools. Investigators also initially suspected the casino's vice president of gaming, Eric Lemerand, of circumventing internal controls to authorize the fraudulent free play cards. Both were suspended from their jobs and Lemerand was banned from the property for a year, but neither were charged.

Unsure of the scope of the employee theft, the state hired a Las Vegas-based consultant, John Goetz of BMM Compliance Field Services, to examine Gulfstream's software to analyze the use of test cards and promotion cards between July 1 and October 1, 2007. He was paid $95,000. (Not bad for a week or two's work!)

He found that many test cards, normally worth about $5 of free play, had been loaded with hundreds of dollars worth of play at a time, and over three months one of them showed transactions totaling $10,000. Promotional cards, which Gulfstream rules say can't be worth more than $500, were loaded with as much as $9,000 over the three month period.

Goetz also found that the casino's accounting functions were so lax they allowed the thefts to continue. He said, "If the property had been reviewing the system data, the issues driving this project could have been stopped and prevented in a matter of days instead of months."