Real-Life ‘Ocean’s 11′: How Agents Foiled a $7 Million Casino Scheme

Figuring out what [were] the most effective angles to hold her hands, reviewing the distinct protocols within her own casino,” Casey said.

According to Casey, the lady was truly operating for an unlikely criminal mastermind — Phuong “Pai Gow John” Truong.

Truong, a former casino employee, was identified as small far more than an avid gambler and drifter in the nearby Vietnamese community. That happened weeks soon after Truong was filmed undercover when a tip came in that a portion of gang was headed back to the place exactly where it all began, the Sycuan Casino. Take a puff with two fingers on the cigarette, that implies to double down,” Casey stated.

After once more, the Trans looked to be unstoppable.

“They began pulling a lot extra income off the tables in a shorter amount of time,” Casey stated.

Though the FBI continued to play catch-up, the Tran scores started going by means of the roof, peaking at an incredible $868,000 at Resorts East in Chicago in October 2005.

But for all the slickness and expertise, the Tran gang, specifically its leader, Phuong Truong, would fall prey to a classic negative guy blunder: greed. The group’s members began cheating at blackjack, where the table limits are typically higher and the winnings larger. She was fired, and the situation was brought to the FBI’s focus and chalked up as an isolated incident. The false shuffle is an old sleight-of-hand trick in which a dealer appears to wash and shuffle a deck of cards. They had been able to conduct the scam in full view of the thousands of casino safety cameras and, by the time a casino realized one of their tables had a massive loss, the crew would be gone.

“A lot of the casinos did not comprehend what was taking place to them in actual time. They took in, what we could prove, around $7 million,” Casey stated.

Casey stated Pai Gao John forgot the first rule of gambling: In the finish, the house normally wins.

. “I can smoke my cigarette like this, then you currently know exactly where to bet, what to bet.”

The final piece of evidence that federal investigators needed was capturing the complete scam on video. Normally, it tends to make no difference when the cards are effectively shuffled, but on a false shuffle the player has it all spelled out for them.

“They had it set up like a business enterprise, exactly where they had a day shift, evening shift and graveyard. That is it,” Truong mentioned in the video. That way, players at the table who have been watching and tracking the order the cards came out will know specifically how to bet when that deck, or slug, of cards comes back into play.

“No 1 is the wiser if you never know what you’re seeking for,” Pete Casey, specific agent for the FBI in San Diego, told “20/20″ co-anchor Chris Cuomo.

According to Casey, the lead agent on the case, the dealer was caught assisting many men and women win a few hundred dollars at the table. In the undercover video of the meeting, Truong laid out his whole scheme.

“That was one of the very best undercover videos I’ve ever observed,” stated Casey.

“I only require two guys to go in there with me and light up a cigarette and game more than. In 2002, a dealer at San Diego’s Sycuan Casino was caught performing what is known as a false shuffle. Following spraying the dealer with mace and grabbing the chips, one particular of the two alleged bandits was literally knocked out of his wig and sunglasses by casino safety, promptly foiling the robbery.

Watch the full story here.

There is an exception, on the other hand: a group identified as the Tran Organization. They felt they knew specifically what they had been carrying out, and they can under no circumstances get caught,” Casey said.

They spread out, sending teams to recruit dealers and scam casinos up the West Coast, into Canada and down through the Midwest.

“It really is safe to say that if there is a casino in that state, they hit it,” Casey stated.

The Trans had two things going for them. He pled guilty, was sentenced to 70 months in prison and had to forfeit and pay back millions to casinos and the government.

“They hit close to 19 casinos. Embittered, they happily became informants for the FBI. That kind of funds told the Tran Organization one thing.

“That signifies they have been on it. Casino heists make for wonderful motion pictures, but in actual life they commonly end up significantly less glamorous.

Take the botched try earlier this week when two thieves attempted to steal $155,000 from a dealer at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. They figured it out, maybe two, three weeks following they had left,” mentioned Casey.

By the time the crew arrived at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in 2005, its ranks had swelled to much more than 40 people and it was averaging $50,000 each ten minutes at the table.

It also had changed techniques. In blackjack, even so, a player is not in a position to create down any of the cards, so the Trans went higher-tech.

They utilized hidden microphones and a tracker — a particular person watching the order the cards had been being dealt — would read the cards into the microphones when pretending to smoke a cigarette. At some point Truong and his top rated lieutenants have been identified and put beneath surveillance.

“We got their travel records, their playing habits, all the currency transaction reports,” Casey stated.

On June eight, 2006, agents for the Mississippi Gaming Commission went undercover to meet with Truong. This time, the FBI and casino have been prepared.

With various cameras rolling, they watched as the group, led by one particular of the Tran Organization’s most prolific trackers, Willy Tran, stole much more than $20,000 in 20 minutes before he walked out.

With this treasure trove of video in hand, authorities finally moved in and Phuong Truong’s house of cards collapsed.

By 2007, Truong and 46 of his confederates had been indicted for racketeering, theft and cash laundering. The game suited their approach since in mini-baccarat a player is allowed to create down what cards have been dealt. In reality, the dealer truly protects a significant portion of the cards and keeps them in the order in which they have been dealt. On the other finish of the line, someone would sit outdoors the casino with a specially created personal computer system talking to the tracker, who was wearing a hidden ear piece. What Casey did not recognize at the time was that the dealer was doing extra than just stealing, she was gathering intelligence.

“She was researching it, certainly. Truong began shortchanging his dealers. The laptop or computer program would read out when, and in what order, the cards would come back out in immediately after the dealer had performed the false shuffle to the tracker.

The tracker would signal to the player at the table when the slug of cards was in play and use hand singles to let him know how to bet.

“Take a puff with one finger on, it says to make a bet. According to Casey, Truong devised a strategy: recruit dealers from many casinos willing to understand how to conduct and perform a false shuffle in the course of a card game, and to cash in immediately after that.

Immediately after the dealer was fired from Sycuan, Truong took what the group learned and moved with his wife, Van Tran, and about 15 members of her family north to the Cache Creek Casino outdoors Sacramento, Calif.

With a handful of dealers prepared to go in on it with them, Truong had teams rotating on mini-baccarat tables day and evening at Cache Creek. Primarily based out of San Diego, the group stole much more than $7 million from 19 casinos across the nation using procedures even Hollywood hadn’t believed of.

It began merely adequate. But Truong was prepared to go major time. He thought they have been dealers prepared to perform with him. They had been pulling out $20,000-a-round of cheating,” Casey said.

The crew stole $158,000 in the month of March 2003

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