Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wanna Know a Good Way to Cheat?...Start Up a Phony Casino!

That's what a group of two-dozen Korean casino cheats did. They fleeced a bunch of rich South Koreans who were on a golf outing in China out of $7 million dollars. According to reports, the scam had the flavor of the "Ocean" movies starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, in which the cheats scammed major Las Vegas casinos for tens of millions.

Twenty-five men fell victim to the scam as the cheats engaged them in friendly conversation on golf courses at posh Korean country clubs and persuaded them to take a golf trip to China. There, the Korean scam artists set up phony casinos to swindle the victims who were eager for some hardy gambling action after a pleasurable day on the links, where some betting surely took place between holes.

Prosecutors in Seoul, Korea say they have arrested seventeen people, including one woman, and that a half-dozen more are still being sought. The leader of the cheat-team has been identified only as Choi and is said to be fifty-eight years-old. His thirty-seven year-old female partner has been identified only as Kim. Sex may have been used as well to lure the gambling cheats' victims into the bogus casinos. Choi is still at large.

The phony casinos were staged inside large banquet halls with fake camera-bubbles on the ceilings with all the works in hotels in Haikou, Weihai and Xiamen. The victims played their preferred game of baccarat while bystanders who were part of the scam rooted them on to "beat the casino." At first the victims won but then cheating dealing-techniques were used to quickly traansform their good luck into a nightmare. As they continued losing money, Choi's partners began lending them huge amounts of money at zero interest rates, and because welching on debts is extremely frowned upon among respectable Korean businessmen, they immediately wired the funds to pay off these loans once having returned to Korea.

One newspaper quoted a Korean prosecutor as stating that the cheats used scams similar to those depicted in the famous Robert Redford/Paul Newman con-artist movie, "The Sting" and the South Korean movie "High Rollers," in which ironically a temptress approaches businessmen at a golf club.

My take: Heck, I would have loved to see this go down! It takes balls setting up a phony casino in a hotel...especially if no one on the hotel staff was involved, which amazingly appears to be the case.