Saturday, September 12, 2009

Major Counterfeit Chip Scam Busted in Macau!

Macau is a MAJOR casino cheat area and of course the favorite of casino cheat teams who are also members of the Chinese Mafia Triads. Usually it's baccarat cheat scams or junket player chip scams that proliferate in Macau, but this time it's a sophisticated high-tech counterfeit chip scam. True, it was busted, but the big question is: How many casinos got bilked and for how much money?

Macau police arrested six mainlanders at Wynn Macau and seized 38 highly sophisticated counterfeit gaming chips, each with a face value of HK$10,000. The five men and a woman, aged from 22 to 63, had successfully passed off 16 of the chips - implanted with microchips - which fooled dealers and infrared detectors on the gambling tables and made it all the way to the casino cage.

But they pushed their luck in trying to pass off the remaining 22 chips, by which time the chips were detected by a more delicate detector in the cage. Casino staff using CCTV cameras found the suspects were still gambling. They were taken to the security room and arrested two hours later. Genuine Hong Kong banknotes and real chips totaling HK$210,000, which police believe they got from cashing the chips that included the 16 fake ones, were found on them.

The mainlanders arrived in Macau at about 4pm on Tuesday and immediately went to Wynn. They gambled on tables with the fake chips and collected real chips and cash in payoffs before an expert using a more delicate detector in the casino cage found the 16 fake chips, which contained lower-value microchips, at 6pm.

Police found 22 fake chips on the suspects, who came from Guangdong and Hubei. They will be charged with deception in gambling and participating in a syndicate. Chau Wai-kuong, head of the Judiciary Police Criminal Investigation Department, said the fake chips were probably produced in the mainland by a syndicate that has been active for no more than a month.

The syndicate hired so-called "drivers" to go to Macau casinos to cash in the fake chips. Police are now trying to determine if the syndicate deceived other casinos and whether other "drivers" are still being hired. The mastermind is still at large.

A Wynn Macau spokeswoman confirmed an attempt to cash in counterfeit gaming chips was detected on the spot, thanks to vigilant staff and the effectiveness of security technology. The casino refused to comment further as police investigations are continuing.

It's not the first time Wynn Macau has been targeted by counterfeit criminals. In March last year, a Zhejiang man commissioned an advertising company to replicate the stickers on the Wynn chips and put them on fake chips. He managed to exchange 44 chips for HK$220,000. He was arrested two months later when he entered Macau again. Police seized 149 semi-completed chips and 444 HK$1,000 stickers.