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National Indian Gaming Commission Issues Warning To Tribal Casinos Possibly Being Targeted By Scams

Written By Katarina Vojvodic | Updated:
Tribal Casinos Targeted By Scam (1)

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is alerting tribes, tribal gaming regulatory authorities (TGRAs) and tribal gaming operations of several nationwide impostor scams. The commission says these imposters claim to be vendors and state or tribal officials trying to scam tribal casinos.

The NIGC is urging tribes to report the calls to:

  • Tribal or local law enforcement
  • The local FBI office
  • The US Secret Service

These agencies can detect fraud patterns from the information collected and share it with other law enforcement agencies.

The notice comes one week after Nevada gaming regulators issued a similar warning of the nationwide high-pressure cage scam.

US casinos are on high alert after the news broke

As the National Indian Gaming Association statement reads:

“Recently, there have been multiple instances of scams at commercial and tribal gaming operations with losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The NIGC has been made aware of several failed attempts as well.”

So far, thieves have gotten $1.17 million from Circa Las Vegas and targeted casinos in Mesquite and Laughlin. The police arrested Erik Gutierrez Martinez on theft charges.

As reported in March, $500,000 went missing from Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, the largest casino theft in Colorado history. A suspect was also arrested immediately.

The NIGA provided a specific example of a recently reported scam without identifying any casino properties. Someone imitating a tribal official called the victim working in the vault and said payment must be made to ensure a vital shipment of equipment. They told the victim to remove a specific amount of cash using their cell phone while on the line with the scammer.

The NIGC is urging tribes to alert and train their staff

The NIGC said the scammers usually use the following methods:

  • Pretend to be someone of authority using social engineering to learn about an individual’s business
  • Create urgency, rushing people into making a quick decision
  • Intimidation and fear, threatening something terrible is about to happen if they do not receive payment immediately
  • Untraceable payment methods, through peer-to-peer payments, Bitcoin, wire transfers, gift cards or cash

The commission advises incidents should also be reported to the NIGC Region Offices so that the information can be shared with other tribes.

The NIGC is urging tribes to be alert and use the following tips:

  • Train staff with access to cash and financial accounts to be aware of these and other similar scams
  • Ensure that approved internal controls, policies, and procedures are up-to-date and protect casino assets
  • Remind staff to follow the approved internal controls for cash movement, transfer of funds, or payment of outstanding invoices.
  • Remind staff to verify the request independently by communicating directly with their supervisor
  • Train staff to be alert and understand what suspicious activities may look like with both guests and employees
  • Train staff not to deviate from established controls and procedures, regardless of who is allegedly on the phone
  • Direct staff who receive such calls to immediately alert co-workers, security, surveillance, the supervisor or manager on duty, TGRA, and law enforcement
  • Train staff to consider limiting the direct transfer of external callers to sensitive areas and instead transfer those calls to the Security Office for service.
  • Report phone scams or other similar incidents (whether successful or not) to the NIGC Region Offices
Katarina Vojvodic Avatar
Written by
Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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