A 55-year old Georgia woman who could have faced as much as 20 years has been handed a two-year prison sentence for defrauding two California casinos, as well as several credit card companies, out of more than a million dollars between 2008 and 2014.
Vivian Wang of Alpharetta, Georgia — located about 20 miles north of Atlanta — pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft back in February. Her scamming and swindling — which took place at two smaller casinos both situated outside the Sacramento area — came to light via a collective investigation between the FBI and the Bureau of Gambling Control in California.
The two-year sentence is a relatively light one, considering Wang was facing a $500,000 fine as well as the much lengthier prison sentence following her original guilty plea in February.
Her case was connected to that of 49-year-old Frank Luo, who was given a three-year sentence for defrauding Georgia’s Cache Creek and Red Hawk Casinos. According to the US Attorney General’s office, the two were co-conspirators, working together to steal the identities of migrant workers to get casino credit for themselves.
Their deceitful racket spanned a period between 2008 and 2014.
The duo obtained the names and social security numbers of migrant workers, using those identities to earn casino credit, or “markers,” with which to gamble. They also opened credit card accounts under the fake identities, giving them even more options to pull cash from.
They created good reputations with the targeted casinos initially by repaying the markers, not only to create the illusion that their credit was good, but to build a good track record for other gaming venues they were planning to deceive down the road.
At one point, Wang was handed a $30,000 casino credit at the Red Hawk Casino in Pacerville, California.
The Justice Department says Wang and Luo worked together to make it look like they were often losing money, which would encourage the casinos to fork over even more credit. The duo enlisted the help of others, whom authorities refer to as “clients,” who would help convince the casino that they were legitimate.
Once they had accrued enough cash and credit, they would disappear from the casino without repaying their debts. Between the markers and the cash they had pulled off of the bogus credit cards, it added up to $1.1 million in losses.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Wang lived in a five-bedroom home between 2008 and 2016, despite declaring bankruptcy in 2010.
Many Ways to Scam a Casino
People have been trying to cheat casinos out of cash for decades, some by more sophisticated means than others.
There was the recent case of the Finnish teenager who took advantage of a bug in an online casino to swindle them out of $152,000. His parents were also prosecuted, since they had the proceeds of the crime in their bank accounts. They were all eventually handed suspended sentences.
A British fraudster went for a slightly cruder tact, concocting a fake lottery ticket to claim a £2.5 million ($3.27 million) prize.
And of course, there’s the simplest kind of cheating of all. Former NBA star Charles Oakley made headlines when he tried to take back his roulette bet after releasing he was going to lose.
Oakley eventually got off with a $1,000 fine.