R. Paul Wilson on: The Fake Chip Collateral Scam
Late one night in Las Vegas, in a dark corner of a quiet bar, a discussion heats up until it is quelled by a simple compromise.
But when the three parties go their separate ways, one of them has unknowingly lost (at least) a thousand dollars.
In a world where scams make money off of mundane ideas, I was surprised to learn that this old scam was still circulating with a fresh (and clever) coat of paint and while it’s certainly rare, it exist.
The set up
The story goes like this:
A group of “businessmen” are looking to recruit players who have clean accounts and player profiles at city casinos and are offering to exchange high-value casino chips for cash with a 20% bonus for each stack they swap.
So, for a token of $100, the “businessmen” will pay $120 in cash.
For $1,000, they will pay $1,200.
The only question you should ask yourself is: “Why?”
The reasons tend to fit a certain profile, as do the characters who make that type of offer.
Whether it’s a possible mobster, a gang member or a drug dealer; a dodgy stockbroker, a rogue dealer or casino employee, and even card cheaters looking to clean up their money, but all of these setups have the same apparent goal: to launder money without setting foot in a real casino .
So whatever the story, the reason they don’t spill their money in person is that they might be recognized or wanted by the law etc. and that will make sense and help quell any suspicion of a potential mark.
Here is the hook:
We have large cuts of money that need to be cleaned up. We need players who can increase their token purchases while holding a large chunk of the high value tokens for a month and then trading those tokens at a nice profit.
With a few dozen players we can manage millions of dollars a year in casinos more safely than doing it ourselves and even with a 20% loss we would earn more than managing our money through others methods and sources.
All you have to do is bring us $10,000 a month in black tokens and we’ll exchange it for untraceable money and you can do whatever you want with it.
A common question might be, “If you don’t enter the casino, what are you going to do with the chips?”
The answer is simple and easy to believe when a brand falls for the bait: that they have other people cashing in and depositing funds into accounts they control and there is no way to trace those funds back to them. origin and source of money.
Somewhere off the Las Vegas Strip, away from electronic eyes, scammers meet their target to exchange chips for cash – but there’s more than one potential customer at the table.
The brand has received an offer to enter into an exchange which yields a good profit, but this agreement is clearly not legal, so in order to meet the man he or she will be dealing with and verify that the agreement is real, he is invited to a late-night meeting where a second “player” is in the bar at the same time.
When the mark arrives, this “other player” joins them, supposedly to take advantage of the same deal but when they each present their chips, the accomplice has much more than the mark.
The second “player” offers the brand a certain comfort; that he is not alone in this proposition but best of all, the second player has tough questions for the man who buys chips and does not hesitate to ask them.
Why don’t you do it yourself?
How do we know that this money is not fake?
What are the limits of the amount we can exchange?
Naturally, the answers to all of these questions are aimed at satisfying the brand’s suspicions that create a simple and powerful effect on that person.
When we challenge someone directly we tend to be more averse or suspicious, but when we are separated from that challenge (as an observer) we are more likely to listen to (and believe) the response.
A psychologist could argue this or explain it away with a $50 bucket of sentences, but as someone who has used this scheme hundreds of times in real scams, I can confirm that using an accomplice to allaying expected suspicion is a proven and powerful tactic.
The trick to this scam is actually subtle: the scammers tell you where to play and buy chips.
The role of the “other player” is more than an accomplice in this case.
In fact, they are essential to the outcome of the scam as they will motivate whatever is about to happen.
The second “player” acts more suspiciously and may even accuse the brand of being part of a scam to trigger a natural response to prove their honesty, making them even easier to manipulate as the scam progresses.
But the second “player” also brought in far more chips than Mark, so when it’s all counted on the table, the apparently money-laundering “businessman” tells his accomplice and Mark that he only has enough money to cover one of their stacks.
Immediately, the accomplice demands that his chips be covered since he has brought more and after a little sleight of hand, the businessman agrees to pay the accomplice and not the mark.
It’s more than just theatre, it’s a test.
If the brand goes headlong into this argument and demands that it be paid instead, there’s an excellent chance of taking this brand for well over $1,000 (which they were instructed to bring black chips of a particular casino).
This is an important step because it tells scammers whether or not to rip and run or game their victim for more money.
So what’s going on?
The accomplice is paid in cash, with a profit of 20% leaving the businessman without enough money to pay the mark, so his tokens are returned with an invitation to meet tomorrow night and conclude the transaction.
It’s also love at first sight if the scammers will have read the brand as too suspicious or too unpredictable to pull off more, which is arguably the real focus of this scam game.
If the brand is pushy and clearly hooked on the idea, there’s a real possibility they’ll bring in $10,000 instead of just $1,000, in which case they’d be allowed to go home with the same chips they did. brought them to the bar with instructions to buy another $9,000 with their hard earned cash then lose it all through a lure and switch to the same bar.
But even when a brand is too difficult or not worth playing, scammers can still walk away with $1,000 through a devilishly simple exchange of the brand’s real casino chips!
The switch is what we call a “non-move” and (from the story I’ve heard) seemed to go like this:
The brand’s (real) tokens are counted, then the accomplice’s (fake) tokens are counted and stacked next to them.
After the discussion (or argument), a stack of fake chips is simply returned to the mark from the combined stacks.
Unless the mark is particularly suspicious, it will work every time thanks to the delay caused by the accomplice’s questions and demands.
If the scammers are very smart, they can use a little extra directional error to adjust the stacks at some point, moving a fake stack to the position previously occupied by the brand’s real tokens.
Later, the scammer would apparently take the tokens from the brand and return them, but even that is not necessary if the brand is completely convinced that all the tokens are real.
That was the clever part and it surprised me at first, but it totally makes sense.
On his way home, Mark receives a call from the businessman, accusing him of being in a scam with the other player and telling him that all the chips are fake!
Sure enough, on closer inspection, the tokens they went home with now seem a lot less convincing and the brand is now the owner of $5 of the renowned house tokens.
The beauty of this deception is that the brand has nowhere to turn to report the crime.
He or she cannot go to the police because they obviously participated in a crime themselves!
And they can’t go to the casino because they would immediately be suspected there.
Best of all (from the scammer’s point of view), the fake chips are never revealed to the casino who would no doubt investigate further.
That’s the beauty of blowing – it prevents the brand from discovering that they have fake chips at the cashier’s desk and forces the casino to investigate further.
This scam is a simple test to see if someone will take a bigger bait, but when it doesn’t work, they still lose a lot of money to scammers.
So what if the mark takes the bait and comes back with 100 black chips?
Well, it can go in many ways, from a simple theft to a clever exchange of tokens or money when the exchange is made – perhaps in the parking lot from the trunk of a car, which happened turned out to be a great place to swap whole bags or suitcases in the past.
A clever (but unpleasant) strategy would be to swap the cash for a duplicate bag full of cheap drugs mixed with innocent powder, but just enough to make the brand panic and never report anything to the police.
Less important than how the scam begins is how it ends – with a believable story designed to snag a likely brand, then take them on an expensive roller coaster ride.
The hard truth is that if you get involved in something that’s clearly illegal, you’re probably just a bucket of buddies in shark-infested waters.