As always happens, when there’s money flying around, folks with skills on the outside are looking to, well, steal it. A recent example occurred at Foxwoods, where a group of people stole more than $90,000 by accessing the accounts of players who had been rewarded free play, in a scam that was reported in January.
According to the affidavit as reported in the Hartford Courant, Foxwoods Security began investigating when a female patron complained in September that $150 worth of bonus slot play had already been redeemed from her account. Casino officials learned the account was accessed a few days earlier at a particular slot machine and reviewed surveillance video showing an Asian male at the machine.
“The man, later identified as Allen Wu, said he and about seven others had been picking up Rewards Cards off the gaming floor daily,” the Courant reported. “Slot machine players often leave their cards behind inadvertently. Wu said that using the player names, they accessed Internet sites and obtained personal information about the players in an effort to discover their Personal Identification Numbers. He said passwords often were the last four numbers of the patron's birth date, the last four numbers of their Social Security numbers or a simple numerical pattern such as 1234.”
The investigation led to a player who said J. Antonio "Tony" Cifizzari gave him multiple casino rewards cards with their PIN numbers and the amount of money available. He said he was instructed how to obtain the bonus slot play by putting the card into the slot machine, entering the PIN and downloading the money. He would cash it out for a voucher, meet with Cifizzari off-site and give him half the value of the voucher.
According to the Courant report, the police eventually spoke with Cifizzari, who said the scam had been running since May 2012. Those involved with the scam have been permanently ejected from the casino, and players whose cards have been compromised have been notified that they need to create a new PIN.<br><br>
Nothing you probably haven’t heard or seen in the past, but still, indicative of how new powerful trends (rampant free play) and technologies (offering personal information readily available on the Internet) are always accompanied by new security risks. By the way, we’ll be addressing this type of problem in a session at Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi called, “Thieves, Cheats and Scams.” One of our speakers at this session will be talking about how to protect yourself from incidents such as the one described above by using data analytics.
The Internet figures in another problem area, perhaps best left for another time. But it was interesting to hear Ohio officials last month point to Internet cafes as a reason why casino tax revenue had fallen $900 million short of projections these past two years. Those who represent the cafes say they are being scapegoated for the casinos’ own subpar performance. But we are talking online poker here, which sucks in lots of players and their time. Anyone who has spent hours trying to wean himself from Zynga’s iPad poker app (just one more hand…amazing how quickly they turn those around, oh to see the hand meter turn bright yellow yet again) understands the appeal of online gaming and its ability to captivate.
Technology giveth and taketh. It’s to be exploited, suspected, revered and feared. And the clicks just keep on coming.