‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ Casino Fraud Suspects Nabbed by FBI

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    Local FBI investigators helped indict 14 suspects accused of stealing more than a million dollars from casinos in California and Nevada through a clever scheme. NBC 7's Tony Shin reports.

    Local FBI investigators helped indict 14 suspects accused of stealing more than one million dollars from casinos in California and Nevada through a clever fraud scheme dubbed “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

    According to officials, the suspects were allegedly able to confuse the banking system by finding a bank security gap. Investigators said the suspects took advantage of a loophole in the Citibank system.

    Officials said the suspects would open accounts at various Citibanks all over Southern California, including here in San Diego. They would allegedly deposit $1,000 in each account and then head to Indian gaming casinos like Pechanga and Las Vegas casinos including the Wynn and Tropicana.

    At the casinos, the suspects would hit cash advance kiosks and withdraw money.

    FBI Nabs Casino Theft Suspects

    [DGO] FBI Nabs Casino Theft Suspects
    Local FBI investigators helped indict 14 suspects accused of stealing more than a million dollars from casinos in California and Nevada through a clever scheme. NBC 7's Tony Shin reports.

    “And then they exploited a gap in Citibank's security protocols to substantially overdraw those accounts," explained Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Coyle.

    Because of that loophole, a suspect could make multiple withdrawals for the same amount of money. Investigators said each withdrawal they made was for about $9,000.

    As long as it happened within 60 seconds, all of those withdrawals would count as duplicate transactions. The suspect could then overdraw the account by tens of thousands of dollars.

    “Citibank would treat multiple identical transactions within this window, as being duplicates of one another and so it wouldn't recognize that the accounts were being overdrawn at the time the transactions were taking place,” explained Coyle.

    The suspect would then take the cash receipts to a cashier and collect all the money.

    Coyle said that security gap allowed the suspects, who are mostly from the Los Angeles area, to steal more than $1 million over an eight-month period. Prosecutors said none of the illegal transactions happened at any casinos in San Diego County.

    The suspect would then take the cash receipts to a cashier and collect all the money.

    "Some of that cash appears to have been used to gamble at casinos where the fraud was conducted or nearby casinos, such was the volume of the gambling that they were comped free rooms at the casinos,” said Coyle.

    But FBI agents said there was one problem in the scheme: the suspects used their real names to open those Citibank accounts, and that’s ultimately what led investigators to them.

    FBI agents say that loophole in the Citibank system has now been closed.

    Authorities have already apprehended 13 suspects involved in the “Gone in 60 Seconds” scheme, but are still looking to arrest one more suspect, 58-year-old Levon Karamyan.

    Anyone with information on this case, or tips on Karamyan’s whereabouts, is urged contact the FBI.
     

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