A Singapore casino cheat has discovered the hard way that the (big) house always wins.
On Wednesday, Toh Hock Thiam was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for his role as the mastermind of a counterfeit chip-cashing scam that took the casino at Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort for nearly S$1.3m (US $934k) over a single night in late 2015.
According to prosecutors, the 55-year-old Toh led an unknown number of accomplices in a scam to redeem counterfeit S$1k chips at MBS. Between the evening of November 22 and the early morning hours on the following day, the gang redeemed a total of 1,291 of the chips for cold hard cash.
The Straits Times reported that the crime went undetected for a week due to the high quality of the counterfeit chips. It was only after an MBS cashier noted a slight flaw in the color of a single S$1k chip that staff realized the chip lacked the usual security features. A subsequent examination turned up the rest of the bogus chips.
Prosecutors said Toh recruited at least two other accomplices, who in turn subcontracted at least 16 other ‘runners’ to participate in the scam. Thirteen of these runners have already had their day in court, resulting in prison sentences ranging from five to 14 months. Toh’s two main accomplices were jailed for one year and five years, respectively, with the longer sentence due to the culprit having received a percentage of the ill-gotten gains rather than a flat fee.
While security footage revealed that Toh was directly responsible for cashing only 420 of the chips, prosecutors successfully argued that Toh’s role at the top of the gang’s pyramid indicated that he was either involved in the chips’ manufacture or was the immediate contact for whoever created the “best quality” fakes the casino has yet encountered in its seven-year history.
Toh originally deposited $335,400 cash into his Singapore bank account the morning after the scammers worked their magic, but fled to Malaysia eight days later when he realized the jig was up. Malaysian authorities arrested him that New Year’s Eve and returned him to Singapore to face the music, but none of the stolen cash was ever located.