Man ages himself to bilk seniors out of poker winnings

Posted on: July 28, 2020 20:55 PDT

While gamblers across poker rooms and casinos in the United States and around the world are encouraged to wear masks to help stop the spread, this takes things to a whole new level.

Authorities have arrested a man for disguising himself as a senior citizen using a prosthetic mask to steal more than $100,000 from casino guests in Michigan and Kansas.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed in a Federal court in Michigan last week, John Colletti, aged 55, is alleged to have targeted his victims by stealing their personal information and using counterfeit ID like driver’s licenses to withdraw money from their personal checking accounts using self-service kiosks at various casinos.

“We initially identified this fraudulent activity and immediately alerted our customer and law enforcement,” according to Global Payments spokeswoman Emily Edmonds. “Throughout the investigation, we provided support and cooperation that ultimately led to the apprehension of this suspect.”

The investigation was triggered when MGM Grand Casino security identified at least 10 victims of identity theft that, collectively, lost over $98,000 between the period of April 26th and May 27th, 2019.

MGM Grand Casino in Detroit has one of the area’s most popular poker rooms, with 17 tables featuring tournaments and cash games running regularly.

According to the complaint, the kiosks that Colletti allegedly took advantage are used by the casino industry for multiple purposes, including bill-breaking, jackpot processing, cash withdrawals, cash advances, and ticket exchanges.

Patrons who use the kiosks must insert their driver’s license and enter the last four digits of their SSN and phone number before funds from their checking account can be withdrawn. Each of the victims had their bank accounts linked to their Global Payments VIP Preferred Program before being victimized, according to the complaint.

With casinos requiring patrons to wear masks in many casinos and poker rooms across the country, such fraudulent activity could end up being more prevalent in the future — and more difficult to detect.