Stop Counterfeiting Slot Cheats!

Don't 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 business!

Industry Articles On Counterfeit Tokens

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 recovery of counterfeit tokens worth about $49,000 and a .22-caliber handgun, State Police spokesman John Hagerty said.

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 Enforcement.

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 Enforcement.

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.

High-Tech Slot Cheats Put
 New Spins on Old Scam


c.2001 Newhouse News Service

A Nevada 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 has existed.

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 ones."

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 counterfeit coin.

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 indictment.

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," said Stoll.

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 database.

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

ATLANTIC 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 Tropicana Casino Resort.

Seth J. 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.

When they searched his vehicle, the detectives found cocaine, token-

manufacturing equipment and more than $5,000 worth of bogus $5 and $10 tokens similar to those used in Tropicana, Harrah's Atlantic City, Showboat Casino-Hotel and the Sands Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, Suarez said.

They also found tokens similar to those used previously at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and at unnamed casinos in Louisiana Mississippi.

Bergen 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.

No. 95-2032

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 jewelry components.

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

Last Updated: 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.