US cops have arrested 14 people over an elaborate scam where $1m was stolen from casino kiosks in a scam the FBI has described as ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ bank fraud.
The suspects allegedly stole $1m by exploiting a gap in Citibank’s electronic transaction security protocols in casino "cash advance" kiosks - which required multiple withdrawals all within 60 seconds.
The court documents alleged that Ara Keshishyan, 29, of Fillmore, California, set up the scam by depositing money in seed Citibank accounts and recruiting the casino equivalent of money mules. The gang then went to casinos located in Southern California and Nevada before making a series of co-ordinated cash withdrawals, the indictment alleged.
The scam worked because withdrawals were authorised at multiple machines before balances were updated, taking throwaway accounts well into the red.
The stolen funds were often used to gamble, leading many casinos to supply the alleged conspirators with free rooms due to their extensive gambling activity, the FBI said.
When Citibank noticed the discrepancies, it alerted the authorities, leading to an FBI-led investigation that resulted in the arrest of the suspects in a series of raids in southern California last week.
All 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to illegally structure financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements (deposit and withdrawals were kept below the reporting minimum of $10,000). In addition, Keshishyan is charged with 14 counts of bank fraud. Prosecutors are also seeking to recoup Citibank's losses by obtaining a forfeiture order, allowing them to seize goods or property obtained with the proceeds of crime.
An FBI statement on the case can be found here. ®