Posted on: August 23, 2023, 10:51h.
Last updated on: August 23, 2023, 10:51h.
Authorities in Macau have arrested two Chinese nationals who are suspected of flooding Galaxy Macau Casino with counterfeit chips.
At least six others are being sought in the scam, which is believed to have cost the casino at least HK$5.6 million (US$700K) on August 21, according to a report by Macau Business.
A press conference held by Macau’s Judiciary Police revealed that during a two-hour period, 493 counterfeit chips with a value of HK$10,000 each were in circulation in the casino. The total number of chips involved could be as high as 804, although the police did not provide details on how they arrived at this figure.
In the span of two hours, the scammers conducted multiple bets and exchanged chips with ten unsuspecting gamblers on the casino floor.
Dealer Discovers Fake Chips
Upon inspection, it was discovered that the counterfeit chips were not sophisticated forgeries. A dealer noticed that the surface of some chips felt slightly rough and further examination revealed that they lacked electronic identification technology.
Modern casino chips are equipped with RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, making them more difficult to counterfeit. They emit signals that can be detected by RFID-reading equipment at gaming tables and the casino cage.
The scammers likely anticipated that the fake chips would be quickly discovered, so their plan was most likely to exchange them for genuine chips and cash out before the scheme was uncovered.
When the two suspects were apprehended, 182 counterfeit chips and 19 genuine chips were seized. Both individuals are unemployed and from mainland China.
Authorities believe that some members of the gang fled Macau through the Border Gate checkpoint immediately after leaving the casino. During the escape, incriminating evidence was discarded and over 100 more counterfeit chips with a face value of HK$10,000 each were found at a waste incineration center.
Unusually Large Seizure
The use of fake casino chips has become more prevalent in recent years, as realistic counterfeit chips can easily be purchased online, often on the dark web.
However, the quantity of chips involved in this case is significant. In the first quarter of 2021, Macau authorities seized 65 counterfeits with a total value of HK$2 million (US$260K). This already surpassed the entire haul for the previous year, despite the pandemic’s impact. In 2019, a year unaffected by the pandemic, a total of 352 counterfeit chips with a face value of HKD18.5 million (US$2.4 million) were seized.