Nevada regulator warns casinos of ‘sophisticated’ & evolving cage scam 

Circa Casino, Nevada

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has issued a notice to all gaming licensees in the state regarding a casino cage scam, urging for reviews of security protocols and increased staff education.

This follows an incident that saw a conman posing as Circa Casino owner Derek Stevens and subsequently duping the resort out of $1.1m, the largest known figure to-date.

Erik Gutierrez, 23, was arrested last month regarding the fraudulent incident, when he reached out and contacted the Circa casino cage seeking $320,000 for what he claimed was an emergency payment to the fire department. 

The supervisor met with Gutierrez on four separate occasions at locations away from the gaming venue, delivering more than $1.1m in payments.

Following this, local news reports also found that Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite and Golden Nugget Casino in Laughlin were also caught up in the scam.

This has prompted action from the local regulator, which has warned that these incidents are not contained solely within Nevada but are occurring across the country.

In addition, it is noted that as the racket evolves, investigators have noted a shift in tactics to target gaming pits and other areas of casino properties.

The NGCB alerted licensees that employees are the subjects of social engineering tactics as those committing the fraudulent acts pose as casino executives.

From here, directions are issued to withdraw cash and transport the funds offsite for emergency payments on behalf of the casino.

“The cage scam is sophisticated and has been surprisingly effective in defrauding casinos”

Initial contact, it is warned, usually comes via a PBX call, a business telephone system, which is followed up with a text message to the employee’s cell phone that is reportedly sent by a second manager to confirm the instructions.

“The cage scam is sophisticated and has been surprisingly effective in defrauding casinos,” the NGCB notice, that was sent earlier this month, reads. 

“Subjects gain intelligence on high-level casino owners, employees, managers, and others connected to the casino’s money operations. 

“The fraudsters then contact cage employees using a variety of scenarios to manipulate personnel based on a fear of negative consequences for casino employees and/or operations. 

“Whenever an employee hesitates or resists prompt action, subjects state there is extreme urgency for the offsite payment. Additionally, inferences are made that an employee bonus will be paid for the inconvenience of the unorthodox assignment.”

The regulator has urged all casino licensed to undertake strict reviews of casino and cage security protocols that authorise the removal of cage funds from the licensed premises. 

Education is also recommended for all cage cashiers, supervisors, managers, surveillance, security and gaming pit personnel, with a reminder also issued regarding the potential influence of advancing tech on such scams.

“Finally, licensees should be aware that advanced forms of technology, such as artificial intelligence, may increase the effectiveness of this type of fraudulent activity,” the notice continued. 

“Consequently, heightened security protocols must be developed now to safeguard all employee information and casino assets.”