Gambling Machine Forger Bilked Stores Across Pennsylvania

Posted on: May 8, 2024, 08:51h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2024, 09:55h.

A Bethlehem, Pa. man who allegedly operated a voucher-counterfeiting scheme for skill-gaming machines across northeastern Pennsylvania was charged last week with felony theft and forgery.

Anthony Diehl, Pennsylvania skill games, vouchers, forgery
Anthony Diehl pictured after a previous arrest for drunken driving and fleeing or eluding police. He used a network of vulnerable people to cash forged vouchers in return for drugs and cash. (Image: Lehigh Valley Live)

Anthony Diehl targeted convenience stores, presenting bogus “winning” tickets either in person or through his recruited network of vulnerable individuals, mainly drug addicts, according to prosecutors. These individuals would typically cash in the vouchers, either in exchange for drugs or for a cut of the illegally obtained “winnings.”

In this way, the network bilked numerous convenience stores and gas stations in multiple counties out of more than $20K, prosecutors said.

Diehl is accused of creating the vouchers himself using chemicals and printers to alter the information and inflate the prizes.

Return to the Scene of the Crime

Diehl was caught after he returned to the scene of an alleged crime, namely, the Carbon Mini-Mart in Palmerton.

On Jan. 28, 2023, a man matching Diehl’s description cashed out two vouchers for a total of $695 at the convenience store, which were later discovered to be forgeries, and the incident was reported to police.

Two days later, when Diehl returned to the Carbon Mini-Mart with an accomplice to present another fraudulent voucher, staff called the police.

Responders arrived to find Diehl and another individual. The accomplice told them Diehl had provided him with the ticket to cash and that staff had refused the request.

Police searched Diehl’s vehicle and found a printer, a laptop, and other equipment. Investigators who later examined the laptop discovered more than 100 forged vouchers inside Microsoft Word documents, as well as the watermarks of numerous skill game manufacturers.

Google Searches

Diehl’s Google search results showed hundreds of searches for businesses throughout Pennsylvania that deployed gaming terminals. Investigators were able to match some of the vouchers on Diehl’s laptop with those that had been fraudulently cashed at other stores in the state.

They were also able to trace at least nine individuals who were allegedly part of the voucher-cashing network. Several of these people admitted during interviews that Diehl produced the vouchers and was also a drug user and dealer, according to prosecutors.

The full list of charges against Diehl include corrupt organizations, conspiracy to violate, forgery, theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, unlawful use of a computer, unlawful duplication, possessing an instrument of crime with intent, and theft by deception.

Diehl is currently free on $100K unsecured bail and is due in court on May 31.