Discovery of Fake Chips in Macau Casino Leads to Arrests

The Macau Judiciary Police recently dismantled a sophisticated operation involving counterfeit casino chips. The police's action led to the seizure of 585 fake gaming chips, each with a face value of HKD10,000 (US$1,279).

A partial view of the Cotai Strip region of Macau at night. (Source: Flickr)

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Assisted by casino security personnel, the Judiciary Police apprehended five individuals suspected of belonging to the gang at the casino. However, at least three alleged accomplices managed to escape the scene before they could be apprehended.

Related: Macau Casino Loses over $207K through Chip Manipulation

130 of the counterfeit chips were discovered within the unidentified casino premises, 22 were in possession of 14 legitimate gamblers and 311 were confiscated from the five suspects.

The remaining chips were found abandoned in public toilets at the Barrier Gate checkpoint and in the trunk of a taxi, presumably left behind by the fugitive suspects. In total, the police seized HKD1.8 million (US$230,220) in fake chips.

During a press conference about the incident, the Judiciary Police revealed that a criminal gang initiated its illicit operations in March. The leaders, reportedly from mainland China, issued directives to their key members, who were then tasked with recruiting others to utilize counterfeit casino chips in Macau's casinos for gambling purposes.

After completing their tasks, the individuals were instructed to surrender the authentic casino chips they acquired to the mainland gang. The fake chips were meticulously crafted to resemble genuine ones, making them virtually indistinguishable to the naked eye.

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Fake Chips Common in Macau

Historically, Macau has seen several such schemes. In January 2023, authorities arrested two Chinese nationals for introducing fake chips into the Galaxy Macau casino. The scammers had doctored the chips to inflate their value, a tactic that has become increasingly common as the availability of realistic counterfeit chips has grown, often facilitated by the dark web.

Another incident in August 2023 saw a crime syndicate use fake chips to defraud a major casino in Cotai of HKD5.7 million (US$729,030). That led to the arrest of two men and the pursuit of at least six other fugitives.

The prevalence of counterfeit chips has prompted Macau casinos to enhance their security measures. While many Las Vegas casinos use chips equipped with RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, Macau's casinos have been slower to adopt such advanced measures. However, the high incidence of fake chip incidents has accelerated the integration of the technology to authenticate chips and track them in real-time.

Despite these efforts, the challenge persists. In another case from this past January, several mainland Chinese individuals were arrested for running a counterfeit chip scam that compromised HKD1.6 million from a casino. The Judiciary Police seized 33 fake chips in that operation.


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