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False Shuffle: Group Sentenced for Cheating Casinos

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By Caleb Groos on July 14, 2009 1:58 PM

Four members of the "Tran Organization" were sentenced for a high tech scheme in which they cheated casinos across the U.S. and Canada. So far, 29 members of the group have pleaded guilty to cheating a combined total of 25 casinos.

How'd they do it? Some sort of Hollywood break-in caper? A card counting savant?

Not really -- just some high tech card cheating. As explained in a Department of Justice press release, the group employed hidden transmitters and card predicting software in a mission impossible version of the "false shuffle." This led to big wins at blackjack and mini-baccarat tables in casino after casino.

In a "false shuffle," a chunk of the deck remains unshuffled. Those in on the scam can memorize and predict the order of cards in this unshuffled chuck (referred to as a "slug"). This requires involvement of the dealer and at the casino level, perhaps even the dealer's pit boss.

That's how it went down with the Tran Organization... over and over and over again. Prosecutors alleged that they made off with up to $2.5 million in illegal winnings.

The four individuals sentenced yesterday (George Michael Lee, Duc Cong Nguyen, Hop Nguyen and Tien Duc Vu) respectively pleaded guilty to a variety of offences including participating in a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to steal from Tribal casinos and conspiracy to launder money.

They received varying levels of jail time, ranged from 3 years to supervised release, along with orders to repay the millions they illegally won.

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