SACRAMENTO— On November 5, 2018, a Georgia woman was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in a casino and credit card fraud scheme that targeted casinos nationwide, including Red Hawk and Cache Creek casinos in California.
Vivian Wang, 55, was sentenced to two years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents she participated in the scheme between August 2008 and August 2014. The scheme involved using false identities in the names and Social Security numbers of migrant workers to apply for casino credit called “markers” and to open credit card accounts. A marker is a cash advance provided by a casino to a patron, and it is often secured by a check from the patron’s bank account.
Wang, working in concert with her co-defendant, Frank Luo, initially timely repaid several markers at different casinos and several credit cards to give the impression of creditworthiness to future casinos and credit card companies. Wang and Luo recruited “clients” to the scheme to induce the casinos and credit card companies to part with even more money under fraudulent pretenses.
Wang and her co-schemers coordinated their gambling activity to give the appearance of losing money (and thereby encouraging the casinos to issue future markers) when in fact one schemer would “lose” money while another would gain the same. In other instances, one schemer would surreptitiously deliver the issued gambling chips to another in order to give the appearance of having spent them. At the end of the scheme, Wang and her co-schemers did not repay the casino markers or the significant outstanding credit card balances accrued in a short amount of time once creditworthiness had been established. The combined fraud led to more than $1.1 million in losses to casinos and credit card companies.
Wang used an Illinois state identity card in the name of a particular migrant worker to achieve various parts of the scheme, including presentation of that identification at a Placerville-area casino in August 2013 to obtain a $30,000 marker.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control.
Luo was sentenced to three years in prison.
“Casino and credit card fraud are not victimless crimes,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “And stealing identities is unconscionable. Thank you to the FBI agents and DOJ special agents who teamed together to investigate this and assist where needed in the prosecution.”