Sophisticated New Jersey casino fraud scheme leads to five indictments

By Noah Taylor Updated
Sophisticated New Jersey casino fraud scheme leads to five indictments

Five people have been caught allegedly using a sophisticated fraudulent cheque scheme to scam New Jersey casinos out of more than $1.1 million.

Xiuhuan Zhang, Qingtao Zhang, Sen Ge, Shuai Liu and Peng Cai were charged with second-degree conspiracy and various counts of second-degree theft by deception, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office said.

Over the space of three days in August, the two female members of the gang, Xiuhuan Zhang and Qingtao Zhang, allegedly presented forged cheques at five casinos in the city.

These were exchanged for casino chips before being cashed out.

According to the state prosecutors, the three men “assisted the women at various times” during the alleged fraud.

Casinos targeted were Caesars, Borgata, Ocean, Hard Rock and Golden Nugget.

At each casino, Xiuhuan Zhang allegedly presented a fraudulent TD Bank Official cheque for $150,000 to obtain chips and Qingtao Zhang allegedly presented a fraudulent Bank of America cashier’s cheque for $134,000.

The gang was not always successful though.

Some casinos deny bad cheques

The Hard Rock denied one cheque for $150,000 while Qingtao Zhang was told she could only receive chips in incremental amounts on her $134,000 cheque.

Xiuhuan Zhang was arrested by Dutch police in Amsterdam earlier this month at the request of New Jersey authorities.

The others are still at large.

The state Attorney General’s office said it was currently investigating other individuals it believes may be linked to the crimes.

“The defendants were caught executing a sophisticated financial scheme spanning multiple casinos and over a million dollars in fraudulent cheques,” acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck said.

“This case is just one example of the excellent work, in this instance across international borders, performed by the members of the New Jersey State police and Division of Criminal Justice who are assigned to investigate and prosecute crimes in the casinos,” he added.

New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice Specialised Crimes Bureau obtained an Atlantic County grand jury indictment on October 13.

If convicted, the suspects face five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.

“The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Casino Prosecutions Unit routinely work together to investigate and prosecute major cases involving financial fraud, money laundering or other criminal conduct committed in the casinos in Atlantic City,” the director of the Division of Criminal Justice said.

“Through their vigilance, expertise and diligent work, we are holding those responsible for these crimes accountable,” she added.

Alleged Crown money launderer arrested in Bangkok

A man alleged to have laundered millions of dollars through Crown Resorts has been arrested in Thailand and is facing extradition to Australia.

Chung Chak John Lee was arrested in late December 2020 as part of an ongoing effort by Australian authorities to weaken a multinational organised crime syndicate known as The Company.

The United Nations estimated it was at times, responsible for up to 70 per cent of the methamphetamine entering Australia.

Mr Lee, who operated out of Hong Kong and Bangkok, allegedly directed a high-roller gambling tour business that had partnered with Crown to use the gaming company’s Melbourne casino to launder millions in drug funds out of Australia in 2012.

The ease with which Mr Lee and The Company exploited money laundering controls within Crown was revealed in 2019 and 2020 and helped spark an inquiry in New South Wales into the casino firm.

Mr Lee, 65, is allegedly a senior member of the 14K Triad, one of the world’s most powerful crime gangs, and is suspected to have conducted international drug trafficking activities over three decades, generating billions of dollars in revenue.

He is also the alleged right hand man of billionaire Tse Chi Lop, who has been dubbed Asia’s El Chapo.

According to police, Mr Lee and Mr Tse fulfilled various roles within The Company’s multinational structure.

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