Employees at three casinos fall for scam
EDITOR’S NOTE: The scam described herein seems so ridiculous that no rational employee could actually fall for it. But they did -- or did they? Your comments below are welcome.
The largest hotel in downtown Las Vegas was defrauded out of more than $1 million after a casino employee was tricked into thinking she was delivering bags of cash to two individuals at four different places on behalf of one of the property's owners, according to police.
Erik Gutierrez-Martinez, 23, was detained on suspicion of stealing more than $1,000,000. He was living with his aunt in a mobile home park in east Las Vegas.
According to the arrest record, when officers apprehended Gutierrez-Martinez, they discovered a sizable bag with roughly $850,000 bunched up inside, with the word "Circa" scribbled on the bag. Before Gutierrez's arrest, another individual in the car with him was not held by police for unreported reasons.
A casino cage supervisor at the Eureka Casino Resort took $250,000 out of the building in March 2023 and drove to Las Vegas to give it to someone she thought was due money “for hand sanitizer.” According to the records, Gutierrez was the individual the employee allegedly met at a gas station parking lot.
A caller reported a missing check to a company on March 2, 2023 at 1:30 a.m. from a Mexican phone number to the Eureka casino cage. The individual then allegedly contacted the employee's personal mobile phone and instructed her to look in the cage for a check that was written out to a company.
The employee informed the caller that she was unable to locate the check. The caller then gave the employee instructions to take $250,000 in cash from the casino cage and deliver it to a different individual in Las Vegas. It was unclear how the caller got the employee's personal mobile phone number or why the employee complied with the bizarre requests. Near the Arizona border, Mesquite is located more than 80 miles to the northeast of Las Vegas.
The worker removed $250,000 from the cage, placed it in a box, and then walked out. The employee apparently talked on the phone and texted with someone who detectives suspect to be Gutierrez during the journey to a gas station in northwest Las Vegas.
According to records, the caller told the employee to put $15,000 into a Bitcoin ATM when she got to the gas station. The caller then instructed her to visit a different location, but the Bitcoin machine there was broken.
The caller instructed the worker to transfer the remaining $235,000 to a person, later identified as Gutierrez, at a third gas station, according to the records. A call from someone at the casino ordering her to return with the money was received by the employee after meeting Gutierrez in the gas station parking lot, according to the documents.
The employee told detectives she received a call from a seemingly stressed-out person saying there was a problem with a contract and payment of $250,000 and that the money needed to be delivered right away. The employee admitted that managing payments to or from vendors was not typically part of her job.
According to officials with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, a similar operation apparently took place at the Golden Nugget in Laughlin. Although detailed information regarding that event was not immediately accessible, available documents stated that Gutierrez was not charged in relation to the Laughlin incident. According to the investigators, a Mexican phone number was used in both cases.
The money that was transmitted to Bitcoin was sent to 17 separate accounts, according to the investigators' findings. The money in question was also sent to Gibraltar, a British colony at the Mediterranean Sea's entrance.
In response to a report of a potential con, police were called to the Circa Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas on June 17. Police stated in court filings that a member of the hotel security staff informed officers that a stranger had called the casino cage posing as the owner of the establishment and requesting $320,000 for an emergency payment to the fire department.
Founded in 2020, Circa is owned by Derek and Greg Stevens, two brothers. Derek Stevens serves as the CEO and public face of the hotel and casino while Greg Stevens mainly avoids the spotlight.
When questioned by police, the cage supervisor revealed that they had received a call claiming to be from the hotel's owner. The individual, who was not one of the hotel's owners, stated that the fire department needed to inspect the fire extinguishers and would charge for additional safety equipment. It was unclear which owner the caller claimed to be.
The cage supervisor delivered the money to the unidentified person in four installments at various off-site locations. According to the reports, the payments to the hotel were $314,000, $350,000, and $500,000 plus three smaller installments, causing a loss of $1,170,000. According to authorities, the employee thought she was messaging her manager and the hotel's owner at the same time.
“Although I love a good PR story, this isn’t one of them,” Derek Stevens said in a prepared statement. “Circa Resort & Casino is cooperating with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in this investigation. We greatly appreciate their efforts to date and cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”
Detectives located the registered owner of the vehicle that was allegedly stolen after tracking it. Police believe Gutierrez's aunt, with whom he resides, was the owner of the car.
At the Clark County Detention Center, Gutierrez was held under $45,000 bail. So far, none of the involved casino employees have been charged.
“Las Vegas-area casino theft cage scheme involves at least 3 properties, Mexican phone numbers”, David Charns, 8newsnow.com, June 30, 2023.