Indian Gaming Commission Warns of Casino Impostor Scams

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The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has recently issued a warning to tribal casinos across the United States, alerting them to the increased risk of a certain kind of scam.

The NIGC has received nationwide reports of impostor scams involving individuals claiming to be vendors, state, or tribal officials in order to steal large amounts of cash from venues. The thefts have targeted tribal casino operations, particularly those employees who have direct access to cash assets or bank accounts.

The news comes hot on the heels of several other high-profile fraud cases involving U.S. casinos, not just tribal ones. Last month, we reported on the $1.1 million theft from Circa Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, in which a man impersonated the casino owner. And back in March, we reported on a similar incident at the Monarch Hotel and Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado.

Now, the NIGC has stepped in with updated guidelines for tribal casinos across the country. The goal is to help them avoid such deceptive tactics.

“We urge tribal officials to ensure that persons working in the tribal gaming operations, such as cage, vault or accounting staff who have direct access to cash assets or bank accounts, are made aware of the scam, and know what to do in the event of such a call or other communication,” the release said.

Scam Tactics and Methods

The scams reported to the NIGC have involved a variety of methods, but mostl use an impersonation of a senior casino or business figure.

In many cases, the scammers call the casino and create a false “emergency” situation, such as a past due payment, a stalled delivery of goods or services, or some other immediate need for funds.

“The scammer then convinces the victim that the alleged dire consequences can be avoided by taking cash and transferring it to another party or entity, while they remain on the phone with the victim until the transfer or deposit is made,” said the official release from the NIGC.

In a recent example provided by the NIGC, a scammer impersonating a tribal official called a victim working in the vault, stating that a payment must be made immediately to ensure that a vital shipment of equipment is made.

The victim was told to remove a specific amount of cash from the vault, and then was directed to use their personal cell phone to remain on the line with the scammer. The victim was then instructed to drive to a location where the money was to be deposited into a bitcoin deposit kiosk.

Warning Signs and Prevention

The NIGC has outlined several warning signs for these scams.

Scammers often pretend to be someone of authority, create a sense of urgency, use intimidation and fear, and use untraceable payment methods.

The NIGC has also provided several helpful tips to prevent these scams.

Those include ensuring that approved internal controls, policies, and procedures are up-to-date and provide protection of casino assets, and reminding staff to follow the approved internal controls for movement of cash, transfer of funds, or payment of outstanding invoices.

The agency also offers more in-depth “technical assistance, training, audits, and other tools and resources to help identify potentially vulnerable areas and improve security and internal controls” on request.

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