Counterfeit gambling chip scam at Macao casino results in HK$1.2m loss, arrest of syndicate members including leader


21st November 2023 – (Macao) Macao law enforcement agencies have successfully dismantled a criminal syndicate suspected of engaging in a counterfeit gambling chip scam, leading to the arrest of five individuals from mainland China, including the mastermind behind the operation. Officials have described the counterfeit chips used in the scam as highly realistic, highlighting the meticulous organization within the syndicate. It is believed that the syndicate utilized at least 24 counterfeit chips with a face value of HK$50,000 each, resulting in a successful cash-out of HKD 1.08 million. The affected casino has reported losses of at least HK$1.2 million and is currently conducting an extensive review to determine the final extent of the losses. Authorities have indicated that further individuals may be involved in the case, and investigations are ongoing.

The case came to light during a routine inspection of the casino’s gaming tables when the presence of 24 counterfeit chips with a face value of HK$50,000 each was discovered. Casino security promptly apprehended several suspects involved in the scheme. Following an investigation, it was revealed that the mastermind of the syndicate was responsible for recruiting and directing individuals to the casino, overseeing the process of swapping counterfeit chips with genuine ones. The other suspects were involved in placing bets, cashing out, or acting as lookouts. Subsequently, additional suspects were apprehended, and one of them was found in possession of HK$1.08 million in cash obtained through the counterfeit chip scam. All five individuals have denied involvement in defrauding the casino, claiming they were unaware of the counterfeit nature of the chips and were simply following instructions to cash them out, with the promise of receiving HK$10,000 as compensation.

The leader of the syndicate, identified as Ms. Li, a 37-year-old mainland Chinese resident, declared herself unemployed. The other four individuals arrested are all 34-year-old unemployed mainland Chinese males, surnamed Tao, Huang, Fan, and Yang. The five suspects are facing charges related to participation in a criminal syndicate and substantial fraud, and they have been remanded for legal proceedings.