Counterfeiting Slot Cheats!
Participate In Their Slug-Fest !!
A fist full of lead slugs is neither a welcome sight for honest
customers nor for casino management. In spite of the well known
nearly identical inductive alloy signature between common lead and
nickel-silver alloy tokens, many casino properties continue to use
this alloy (see upper left token) leaving their machines open to
garage-shop counterfeiters who produced lead slugs as pictured in
the right hand column and found in the hoppers of slot machines
throughout the industry. Even those casinos that have changed
their alloy to a more secure alloy are finding that counterfeiters
have found various kinds of solder and chopped pennies can be made
to sufficiently mimic even the secure alloys. The only way to stop
them is to raise the bar... for example, by requiring the
detection of quality minted facets that cannot be replicated in a
garage. X-Mark tokens and
Xeptors put counterfeiters out of
Articles On Counterfeit
Tool and die maker accused of
making, using counterfeit casino tokens
January 03, 1997
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Authorities in three
states are on the trail of a tool-and-die shop owner who allegedly
made fake slot machine tokens for casinos in Connecticut, Nevada
and New Jersey.
The man was caught here Saturday, but
authorities believe others may have been involved in what they are
calling the biggest counterfeiting case in the 18-year-history of
legalized gambling in New Jersey.
Louis Colavecchio, 54, of North Providence,
R.I., and live-in companion Donna M. Ulrich, 45, were caught
playing with what appeared to be counterfeit
tokens Saturday at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino,
police said Thursday.
A search of Colavecchio's car led to the
counterfeit tokens worth about
$49,000 and a .22-caliber handgun, State Police spokesman John
Secret Service agents searching his business -
Diamonds in Design, Ltd. of North Providence - found a locked safe
that contained 40 dies for casting slot tokens that could be
passed in all the Atlantic City casinos, both Connecticut casinos
and several Las Vegas casinos.
Diamonds in Design specializes in precision
molds, models and dies. The fakes were nothing if not precise,
Hagerty said. "These tokens were extremely good," he said.
"This is the most significant
counterfeit scheme that I, in my 19
years of casino regulation, have ever encountered," said Thomas
Auriemma, deputy director of the state Division of Gaming
He refused to say how much the couple made, how
much the casinos lost, or how many other people may have been
involved, citing an ongoing investigation involving authorities in
Nevada, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Investigators for the three states are
attempting to answer that very question. What was the extent of
this? Who were the other parties involved? There is every reason
to believe others are involved," Hagerty said.
It was not clear when the fake tokens were first
used in casinos, he said.
The two had been identified six months ago as
counterfeit suspects and were spotted
Saturday by State Police assigned to the Division of Gaming
That investigation was part of larger operation
involving the counterfeiting of slot tokens and gambling chips,
Hagerty said. There have been no arrests in that case but the
investigation is continuing, he said.
Colavecchio and Ulrich were each charged with
theft by deception, possession of a handgun, conspiracy,
possession of forged devices and slot cheating. They were being
held Thursday in the Atlantic County Jail on $100,000 bail.
New Spins on Old Scam
c.2001 Newhouse News Service
regulator with computer savvy, Ronald Harris was one of the best
at busting slot cheats. So good that for four years, he ran his
own high-tech scam undetected.
Seth Joseph Bergen's methods, police said, were more common.
Bergen is accused of wagering in casinos throughout the United
States with counterfeit tokens that
may have been made in his Florida home.
But Dennis Nikrasch outdid them all. He perfected a talent for
rigging slot machines in his garage, then went on to mastermind
two schemes that netted an estimated $16 million.
Ploys to beat the house have been around for as long as gambling
Although technological advances have revolutionized the casino
industry, thieves have also gone high tech, using methods that
sometimes escape even the best surveillance teams.
"There are gangs that do nothing but cheat the slot machines,"
said Sgt. Gerald Stoll, a State Police detective assigned to New
Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement.
It's a problem so prolific that experts and regulators could not
put a dollar amount on how much is lost each year. "It's been
awhile since I heard someone pick a number," said Shannon Bybee,
executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the
University of Nevada/Las Vegas and a former Nevada regulator.
"It's substantial. But there's really no way of knowing."
"There are three ways to cheat a slot machine," said Richard
Williamson, who heads the technical services bureau for the
Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey. "You can introduce a
flaw into the (computer) program. You can use
counterfeit bills or coins, which
give you better odds because now, you're playing for free. Or you
can manipulate the hopper to think it's not paying out."
It is impossible to say how much money is lost to cheats who use
fake tokens. "Some (counterfeits) are
so good," Stoll said, "it's hard to distinguish them from the real
What matters to the machine is the coin's metal content, size and
density. Each casino uses different tokens. But that hasn't
stopped the cheats. They just make more than one kind of
Bergen, the Florida man, is accused of manufacturing fake tokens
similar to those used in four Atlantic City, N.J., casinos, the
Foxwoods casino in Connecticut and others in the South. He was
arrested last fall while allegedly betting with $10 counterfeit
slot tokens inside the Tropicana Casino and Resort and is awaiting
Investigators would not say what tipped them off to Bergen. But
they have ways of spotting suspects.
Gamblers who try to wager with slugs or shaved coins often hold
two cups so they don't mix their winnings with the fakes they use
to gamble. Then there are the yo-yo players, people who attach a
string to a token and pull it out to use again after making a
spin. The constant motion of slipping in a coin and pulling it out
looks like they're twirling a yo-yo.
"Games have patterns," said Division of Gaming Enforcement
Director John Peter Suarez. "People have patterns. People have
patterns when they're playing. People have patterns when they
deviate from normal patterns."
Investigators can monitor the slot machines for payout
abnormalities. If detected, they review surveillance footage
during the time of the hit.
Photos of suspected players are scanned into a system that can
match faces to pictures of known criminals by measuring the
distance between a suspect's eyes, nose and ears. A criminal can
change hair color and style, wear facial hair or shave, "but the
only thing that doesn't change is the space between your eyes,"
The system sparked a controversy when used at the Super Bowl to
photograph every fan in an effort to catch wanted criminals and
known terrorists. But New Jersey has been using it in its casinos
for three years. So far, 3,800 mugshots are logged in the
But getting clear pictures through the camera lens can be
difficult when gangs work together.
"The ingenuity of the criminal mind," said Suarez, "is amazing."
Florida Man Arrested
With Fake Slot Machine Tokens
CITY, NJ - A man who allegedly manufactured his own slot
machine tokens, using them in casinos in New Jersey,
Connecticut, Louisiana, and Mississippi was captured at
Bergen, 43, of Boca Raton, FL, was arrested November 4 after
State Police detectives watched him use counterfeit $10 tokens
in slot machines, according to John Peter Suarez, director of
the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
they searched his vehicle, the detectives found cocaine,
manufacturing equipment and more than $5,000 worth of bogus
$5 and $10 tokens similar to those used in
Harrah's Atlantic City,
Casino-Hotel and the
Sands Hotel Casino
in Atlantic City, Suarez said.
also found tokens similar to those used previously at
Casino in Connecticut and at unnamed casinos in
was charged with theft by deception, cheating at slots and
cocaine possession. He was arraigned in U.S. District Court
in Camden and was being held November 6 on $20,000 bail.
UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA, Appellee, v. ROBERT M. JOOST, Defendant, Appellant.
The first month - a counterfeiting investigation.
Government efforts in this case occupied a period of four months,
from March 23 to July 24, 1994. One Tracy had been caught passing
counterfeit tokens at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut; he
turned informant and volunteered to give information to Rhode
Island authorities about the counterfeiting activities of his
partner, defendant. Tracy introduced defendant to Rhode Island
State Police detectives DelPrete and O'Donnell, who pretended to
be petty thieves, one of them having a cousin strategically
employed in the cashier's cage at the casino.
Defendant had been convicted thirty years earlier of three
breaking and entering felonies and had been imprisoned during most
of the 1970's and 1980's. Since his release in 1987, he had held
jobs for only short periods. He had commenced his counterfeiting
activity in February 1994. His only current
legitimate source of
income, and a poor one at that, was helping to fabricate costume
His counterfeiting enterprise had suffered a setback when slot
machines at the casino were altered so that they rejected the
fraudulent tokens. When the detectives offered to pay fifty cents
for each dollar token after they supposedly cashed in the tokens
at the cashier's cage, defendant was delighted. Over the next four
months he realized between $5,000 and $6,000 from this activity.
Department of Law & Public Safety Division of Gaming Enforcement
Trenton, NJ 08625
Tuesday, June 17, 2003 9:35 AM-->
Martin A. DeBruin
Emanating from two separate indictments,
on 10/23/87, Mr. DeBruin was convicted for the unlawful use of
coins in slot machines, conspiracy and theft by deception. He used
the wrong denomination of coins in slot machines at Bally's Park
Place Hotel/Casino and the Tropicana Hotel/Casino. Mr. DeBruin was
subsequently indicted for allegedly using counterfeit "Sands"
tokens in slot machines at Resorts International Hotel/Casino on
or about 4/21/88.