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Thief Linked to $700K Michigan Casino Heist Arrested

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An elaborate phone scam targeting a Michigan tribal casino has been cracked, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan on March 6. It has resulted to the arrest of a suspect, who is now on trial for his role in the scheme.

An Easy Mark

The release, from US Attorney Mark Totten, details a cunning scheme orchestrated by Jesus Gaytan-Garcia, a 43-year-old man residing in the US without proper documentation. Gaytan-Garcia is accused of fraudulently convincing an employee at the Four Winds Casino in Hartland, MI, to hand over $700,000 in cash, no questions asked.

The Four Winds Casino, owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, fell victim to the scam on July 30 of last year. According to officials, a phone call came through the official casino switchboard, with the caller impersonating a tribal chairperson.

This individual, presumably Gaytan-Garcia or an accomplice, fabricated a story about an urgent financial need, pressuring a casino employee to provide immediate funds. It's almost identical to a scam that took place at the Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, CO, last year.

The casino supervisor, believing the fabricated story and the supposed authority of the caller, gathered the money and prepared for the delivery. The ability to collect the cash without questions also revealed holes in the internal security protocols at the casino.

The supervisor left the casino premises with the cash and went to a gas station in Gary, Indiana, following the caller's instructions. The criminal complaint associated with the case reveals that the casino employee was initially charged with theft. However, as the case continued to develop, investigators switched gears.

Switching Focus to Gaytan-Garcia

Months of dedicated work by the FBI and Pokagon Tribal Police paid off. They identified Gaytan-Garcia as being present at the gas station during the money exchange. They then dropped the charges against the casino employee.

The investigation gained further momentum when authorities searched Gaytan-Garcia's residence. This search yielded a bundle of cash with a seemingly insignificant detail that proved invaluable. The cash was labeled with the word "Hartford," the location of the Four Winds Casino, and the date of the theft. This concrete link solidified the connection between Gaytan-Garcia and the missing funds.

The press release by US Attorney Totten commended law enforcement for their tireless efforts in apprehending Gaytan-Garcia for this "extraordinary theft." The complaint further clarifies that Gaytan-Garcia is originally from Mexico and was residing in the US without legal authorization. Additionally, the phone call used to scam the casino originated from a Cancun area code, raising questions about potential international involvement in the scheme.

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