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back to article CCTV hack takes casino for $33 MILLION in poker losses

A sophisticated scheme to use a casino's own security systems against it has netted scammers $33m in a high-stakes poker game after they were able to gain a crucial advantage by seeing the opposition's cards. The team used a high-rolling accomplice from overseas who was known to spend large amounts while gambling at Australia's …

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Cojones

Scamming a casino out of big money takes cojones. Being the on-the-ground frontman for the scam even more so.

If he has a mysterious accident or decides that life isn't worth it in the next year or two then I don't see anyone being too surprised.

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Linux

Re: Cojones

I don't see how the casino lost anything. In poker you're playing against your fellow players around the table and not against the house. The house makes its money by taking a small percentage of each pot, known as the rake, or in tournament play they will take 10-15% of the buy-in.

The only possibility is that the casino, so not to piss off some valued customers, voluntarily compensated the players who were scammed.

Linux, because...

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Re: Cojones (@ firefly)

As the scam was performed using the casino's infrastructure and bypassing the casino's security, and probably with the help of some of the casino's staff, the casino is liable. Either they pay the money scammed voluntarily, or their insurance does, or a judge will make them pay after a lengthy (= expensive) process.

Not that I feel sorry for the bastards :-D

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cojones but

Did it really happen or was he one of those players too good to be allowed to play.

Did he have a hidden earpiece, going to he loo a lot or was he taking calls on his mobile?

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Re: Cojones

"I don't see how the casino lost anything"

They lost their reputation. What sucker is going to go and play in their Casin when they could end up being scammed out of millions?

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Re: Cojones but

"Did he have a hidden earpiece, going to he loo a lot or was he taking calls on his mobile?" I was wondering that, too. Getting the information was relatively straightforward, if complex in practice. Relaying that information is the real trick. I doubt the old "hearing aid" trick wouldn't work, not when money was being lost hand over fist, and surely the casino has those private suites screened from radio anyway (if they don't, then they may well have to show it isn't negligent failure). I am intrigued ...

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Re: Cojones but

"too good to be allowed to play."

There's no such thing at a poker table, because the House just takes a cut. They don't care who wins. They only care that a lot of money goes over the table, hence the guy being Comp'ed a massive suite: He obviously had a prior reputation as a whale. The only thing that happens if you're 'too good' is that the House might offer you work playing for them.

"Did he have a hidden earpiece, going to he loo a lot or was he taking calls on his mobile?"

There are at least half a dozen other ways to communicate. Simply strip down a 'phone/radio to the bare essentials and stash it on-person so that it signals the wearer by vibrating various signals. 1 buzz for 'fold now, you'll get owned', 2 for 'bet big, you've got the winning hand' et cetera.

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Oceans 14

IRL?

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WTF?

No Laws Broken?

This can't be right, can it? No crime?

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Re: No Laws Broken?

You could probably get illegal wiretapping on the books, but casino cheating isn't normally in the books as a crime, especially if they don't involve the instruments of the game (in this case, the cards). Still, as happened here, the casino is perfectly withing their rights to tell a cheater to get out and stay out. Happens all the time, and casinos usually pass around blacklists between each other to help keep them in the loop about cheats who might try to find new haunts.

Still, given the sophistication involved here, I would (pardon the pun) place my bets on an inside job.

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Coat

Re: No Laws Broken?

If Australian law matches English in this respect, bets are "debts of honour". There's no legal recourse for failure to pay out or against cheating.

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Pirate

Re: No Laws Broken?

IANAL in any jurisdiction, but shouldn't Crimes Act 1958 §81 (obtaining property by deception) and/or §82 (obtaining financial advantage by deception) apply?

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Boffin

Re: No Laws Broken?

ss334-335 of The Gambling Act 2005 (E&W) changed that rule: gambling debts are now enforceable in England & Wales. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/ihtmanual/ihtm28130.htm

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Re: No Laws Broken?

Indeed and that law is now very useful.

Want to pass on a house to your beneficiaries without having to sell it to pay Inheritance Tax? Just sit down with a pack of cards and go on a very bad losing run...

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Facepalm

Re: No Laws Broken?

Except that Capital Gains Tax would probably be incurred, and Stamp Duty would be payable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No Laws Broken?

It's most definitely a crime here in Nevada. You will go to jail for a long time. There's a joke around here about murder not being a big deal as long as you don't cheat a casino out of money while doing it.

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Re: No Laws Broken?

Yep when a state has no income tax due to making its dime off gambling they would have to be stupid not to not make cheating a casino a felony (which it is in Nevada). From what I understand they also have some of the toughest drug laws in the US as they can't tax that sin (heard one pot seed is a felony there).

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Holmes

Only $4 Million per hand?

Probably a Red Army hacking officer doing a bit of moonlighting for a nice profit.

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Holmes

Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"If you can't find the sucker in the game, it's you..."

I'm confused though: did he rip off the casino, or the other player(s)? If the latter, do they have a case against the casino for improperly securing their monitoring and thus enabling the scam?

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

I would imagine the other players are now suing the casino and in a reasonable country it would have lost its licence

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Flame

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

> and in a reasonable country it would have lost its licence

A reasonable country would investigate the circumstances and once the all evidence had been collected a reasonable country would assess the evidence, come to a conclusion and then take appropriate action.

On the other hand an unreasonable country would have a knee jerk reaction like revoking a license without any due process.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

Yes, because it is in Melbourne's best interest to destroy the massive investments the city has centred around The Crown Casino in the Southbank area, which over the past 10+ years transformed the area south of the Yarra from a dump into valuable real estate, corporate headquarters, and luxury residential skyscrapers. Let's go ahead and pull their entire license because someone scammed them. Do you even understand that it was not the casino's fault, but actual crooks operating there? That's like saying "Let's close down Citibank because some mobsters installed credit card scanning devices in a few Citibank ATMs." EVERY business gets scammed or taken at some point, period.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

A reasonable country wouldn't allow gambling full stop.

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Facepalm

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

Yes, because banning gambling, like banning drugs, will immediately result in the complete cessation of all such activity and no-one would ever gamble illegaly.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

> A reasonable country wouldn't allow gambling full stop.

You mean reasonable countries like:

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, etc all of whom are noted for the reasonableness of their judicial systems and all of whom ban gambling.

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FAIL

"Do you even understand that it was not the casino's fault"

So remind me: whose lax security allowed the game to be gamed?

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Re: "Do you even understand that it was not the casino's fault"

> So remind me: whose lax security allowed the game to be gamed?

A the present moment that is unknown.

It could be that the manufacturers of the equipment left an unknown security hole, or the OS vendors a flaw allowing hackers in or the Casino never patched or left the network unsecured. Or it may be that everything was patched and secured properly and the hacker bribed or blackmailed an insider.

Just because security was breached does not automatically mean that security was lax. You can take all of the correct and justified security measures and still have your security breached. For example, a local store had a reinforced front, alarms that fed directly to the police, high def security cameras that recorded both on and off site, embedded posts in the pavement in front. It still didn't help when a truck was driven through the front and the cash machine stolen.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"A reasonable country wouldn't allow gambling full stop."

"Yes, because banning gambling, like banning drugs, will immediately result in the complete cessation of all such activity and no-one would ever gamble illegaly."

I upvoted both these, even though they are contradictory, because they represent how I feel myself.

Whilst I don't use drugs and I don't gamble, I can see the utility of one (drugs), but not the other (gambling). In an ideal world, gambling would not be state sanctioned, and certainly advertising wouldn't be allowed (I am actually repelled by the averts for the various gambling establishments that have recently been allowed on British TV). However, in order to be consistent, since I think that drug-use should be legalised and brought within the remit of the State because it is an aspect of freedom,* and because it reduces harm to those indulge, then I logically have to accept the legalisation of gambling.

*Unlike libertarians, I don't think that freedom resides in being free to die at the hands of someone less scrupulous than you.

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FAIL

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"Yes, because banning gambling, like banning drugs, will immediately result in the complete cessation of all such activity and no-one would ever gamble illegaly."

By the same logic why make ANY crimes illegal? After all, people will commit them anyway , right?

Why does anyone still use this fscking moronic banning-won't-prevent-it argument? No it won't but it will make it happen less.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

Boltar, banning wont make it happend les either, especially if it happend before.

You also have to keep in account the fact that some crimes are not viewed as a crime by society in large(gambling, drugs use, alcohol use etc).

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

@boltar

read this

http://files.stv.tv/pdf/heroin-seizure.pdf

banning drugs barely reduces their availability so you could argue that it has no effect on use, or could indeed make the social effect of drug use worse by putting criminals in charge of the sale and distribution and putting the profits in criminals hands, on the other hand murder is probably best left illegal.

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Holmes

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"Yes, because banning gambling, like banning drugs, will immediately result in the complete cessation of all such activity and no-one would ever gamble illegaly."

It kind of beggars belief that it's still ok to advertise it so heavily though.

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WTF?

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"You also have to keep in account the fact that some crimes are not viewed as a crime by society in large(gambling, drugs use, alcohol use etc)."

I don't know what society you live in but where I come almost everyone sees drug use as a crime.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

@boltar - I personally think using drugs is stupid and have never wanted to try.

However, in the UK something like a quarter of the population has used or currently uses illegal drugs. From where I sit right now I can walk 500m in any direction and, if I knew who to ask, I could buy illegal drugs. Every year record amounts of drugs are seized - which means, if you think about it, that the amount coming in is increasing.

The War on Drugs is OVER. Drugs WON. What we should do now is follow Portugal's model of treating addiction and drug use as a medical/social matter.

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Facepalm

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"The War on Drugs is OVER. Drugs WON. What we should do now is follow Portugal's model of treating addiction and drug use as a medical/social matter."

So you believe that if drugs were made legal usage wouldn't go up? Or what exactly?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

Drugs are fun, m'kay?

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Stop

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"I don't know what society you live in but where I come almost everyone sees drug use as a crime."

Really?

You mean they've finally realised that our society doses itself senseless on a combination of alcohol, caffeine, hormone-and-mind-adjusting contraceptive pills, ant-depressants and beta-blockers which cause major personality shifts, chocolate, nicotine et al.

There's some other drugs which aren't so legally available, but nearly all of those are far less harmful than most of the above.

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Pint

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

"I personally think using drugs is stupid and have never wanted to try."

Yet you drink beer and coffee, eat chocolate, maybe smoke, and take whatever pills the doctor tells you to?

That seems a little incongruous, I must say.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

1. If we look at the Netherlands, we see the possibility of drug use going DOWN because the "forbidden fruit" effect is gone (some people will partake simply because it's illegal--sticking it to The Man and all).

2. Once it's legal, drugs can be regulated. Manufacturers can be inspected and quality controls enacted. IOW, you can help make sure that whatever goes out is as safe as you can expect from it. The users than inherit whatever risks are inherent with the drug.

3. You can still ban specific drugs for significantly justifiable reasons (for example, drugs with a very easy tendency to overdose so whose safety can't be controlled).

Take a look at the US and alcohol. Was alcohol easier to control DURING Prohibition...or AFTER Prohibition?

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Vic
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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

> So you believe that if drugs were made legal usage wouldn't go up?

Evidence from other countries indicates that there is an initial spike in use, followed by a downwards trend such that, after a little while, total use is down.

But what it would *really* do is to take away the easy source of large amounts of revenue for the criminals that control the drugs trade. And that's far more important than whether or not someone likes a bit of puff.

Vic.

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Happy

Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

@Psyx - I'm teetotal and don't smoke. I do drink coffee and eat chocolate. I try to avoid painkillers.

I avoid drugs partly because a lot of people act like a tit when they're drunk/high/stoned. The main reason I think it's stupid is that you are injecting, smoking or ingesting random chemicals that you bought from criminals. If you think that's clever, I have a bridge to sell you.

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Re: Brings a new consideration to the phrase

@ boltar - if drugs were legal and forced a health intervention rather than arrest, organised crime would take a massive hit. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the anti-legalisation lobbying is paid for by narco-criminals.

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Joke

My bet...

Unsecured wireless AP's. lol. I would hope not. It probably was an inside job or a bit of social engineering. Say someone posing as a CCTV repairman from the hotel's chosen vendor... or even getting a job with said vendor. Whatever it was it was a weak link. There really shouldn't be a physical link between the CCTV system and the internet connectivity in the rooms but...

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EJ

Are we to infer from the story this was a Chinese crim?

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Go

All Bets Are Now Off

The high-roller was king for a day, but his scam was deduced by an ace detective. The pair of cheaters, flush with victory, must now go straight.

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flush with victory

and flush with cash!

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Paris Hilton

Re: All Bets Are Now Off

Looks like we got ourselves a couple of jokers here!

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Faraday cage

For true security, these high-roller private rooms should be enclosed within a Faraday cage. No leaking of Wifi, 3G, Bluetooth, ham radio, or indeed anything. It's the only way they can be sure.

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Re: Faraday cage

Why downvote this? When you can lose 30million because your security wasn't good enough, the cost of building a metal frame into the walls, doors ceiling and floor is pretty small. A faraday cage is not exactly impossibly complicated, it just needs wire mesh stuck to the walls and ceiling followed by a decorator plastering over it. (the floor could be done simply by sticking the wire mesh under the carpet?)

At most, your looking at that sort of project being in the tens of thousands range, which is not unreasonably expensive for something which would have prevented this outright.

Trustworthy staff would have also prevented it happening, but I don't trust my staff not to open viruses that people send them, and I doubt that anybody else here does either. I certainly wouldn't bet anything on them not accepting a couple of million pound bribe!

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FAIL

Re: Faraday cage

The first fail was thinking that spying on your customers was a good idea.

The second fail was consolidating the information from the spying.

The third was the security/social engineering breach.

The fourth fail was stopping it before it became humoungous, leading to the possibility of a film with Mr Cluney in it.

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