The recent US / Canadian mini-baccarat scam that exploded in the news last month when the perpetrators were arrested will not be the focus of this article. Many may regard the mini-baccarat trick as one of the biggest gambling scams of all time. Inherent imperfections in the system, however, rule the big-scam-gone-bad from the top of the charts. Three unique and much more favorable qualifying elements have their weight here as the best of the best. In third place the French Cigarette Scam which was in first place in its day. In second place was the Savannah scam, which went so smoothly that it misled seasoned surveillance experts. First place goes to the Roselli brothers for stealing hundreds of identities and winning millions of dollars in chips in various casinos. And being able to carry on for nearly five years before disappearing into the air, and this is clearly the most important element.
In the summer of 1973 a brilliant plan was concocted by the then roulette dealer at Casino Deauville on the Atlantic coast. By placing a radio transceiver in a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and staring at a tiny receiver in a carved roulette ball, the dealer was about to succeed in his plan. Among his accomplices were his brother-in-law, the gambler and his sister, the seductress ready to act with cigarettes in hand.
He managed to put the rigged ball into play then his sister clutched the pack of cigarettes as the ball spun to make it go into a controlled area and drop it in groups of six numbers. By organizing a 90% accurate plan, this trio raised five million francs ($ 1 million in those days) by fooling the casino owners. The casino hired experts to examine the wheel for technical malfunctions by taking the entire wheel apart, only to be told it worked fine. This led the owners to focus on the dealer watching him from above and nothing abnormal was discovered.
The irony of this scam is that it could have continued undisturbed if one of the owners hadn’t taken a crush on the dealer’s attractive sister. Even though she was indifferent to his advances, her liking for cigarettes drew attention to her Marlboros and he would often ask for a cigarette while she operated the real internal components of that box. Shortly after her lack of interest led him to look at her differently and start wondering why she was in the casino, and so often at the same roulette table. Suspicions shifted to radio interference and the casino called a staff to debug and scour the casino while the scam was in progress. The “Marlboros” were immediately confiscated and the police were there ready to arrest this group. In 1984 the movie “Les tricheurs” (The Cheaters) was based on this scam which was very famous at the time.
Number two is the Savannah Scam which lasted for five years and whose perpetrators have never been exposed. A group of professional scammers developed subtle strategies to deceive dealers, security, and even the “eye of heaven”. With nimble moves and some A-Rate action this group has managed to get away with it hundreds of times, even in the face of strong suspicions. Basically this group hid $ 5,000 and $ 1,000 chips under $ 5 chips on column bets 2 to 1. By tilting the chip placed above it slightly inward towards the dealer they managed to hide the most valuable chip underneath. If the bet turned out to be a winner, they would have pocketed $ 10,000 and if they lost, they would only have lost $ 10. How did they manage to hide all this and make it through? They quickly replaced the $ 5,000 chip in case they lost a bet the moment the ball landed.
If they were discovered by the dealer, they would play the story of the “drunk gambler” and act as if they did not know the ball had stopped. By agreement between them they would then place a $ 5 chip to replace the $ 5,000 chip accepted by the dealer unaware that the $ 5,000 chip was there from the start. On the other hand, if the ball had landed on a winning bet the group would be delighted and a surprised dealer would have looked closer to see that the $ 5,000 chip was underneath the $ 5 chip. The casino would often review the suspicious bet record to confirm that the bet was legal. Even the eye of the sky would not have been able to unmask this move. Casino surveillance experts said the Savannah scam is the best they’ve ever seen. It still remains a mystery that the dealer and the casino failed to understand and unmask this scam, but they certainly did not.
First place for the biggest casino scam which is arguably the best of all time. The latter includes identity theft and the naivety of two brothers, the Rosellis. The Rosellis hired a hacker to break into the credit card database and carefully choose a plethora of identities to “borrow” to play. Ironically, the Roselli brothers died before this scam was even conceived. In fact, it was Mr Chi and Mr Chi who put this brilliant plan into action. After building a reputation with hundreds of names obtained from the stolen information, the couple from Monmouth, New Jersey operated for nearly five years in casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Puerto Rico for $ 37 million. Using the money from previous plans, the two deposited $ 50,
They went to casinos alternately and led the good life, at someone else’s expense. The duo hired trusted accomplices to implement “offset” betting techniques to make people believe they were “losing” money when in fact the accomplices were in the casino making up for their losses. They promptly paid their “exceptional” accomplices within days of leaving the casino, a favorable gesture in the casino credit bureaus. Their credit limits increased from $ 50,000 to $ 1 million over time at some luxury casinos and resorts. The final victory weekend for the two brothers came on New Year’s Eve weekend in 2000 when they showed up in Las Vegas for the last time. They had worked round the clock under the guise of numerous “individuals” and disappeared in the new millennium, never to reappear. The casinos, the FBI, and the Secret Service were unaware of this scam for six months after the duo disappeared, which seemed to have vanished into the air. Despite the great attempts to find the “Rosellis” they have remained fugitives to this day. Ironically the police and the FBI don’t know exactly “Who” they are really looking for in this complicated web of identity.