Quebec gambling monopoly taken for C$1m in casino scam


loto-quebec-casino-fraudQuebec’s provincial gambling monopoly Loto Quebec has been taken for nearly C$1m by conmen who preyed on lax standards at a local casino.

On Wednesday, the Journal de Montreal reported that the Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec had been defrauded of about C$1m (US$750k) by two members of a gang that has allegedly perpetrated similar shenanigans at casinos in other Canadian provinces.

According to the report, one of the fraudsters pretended to be a high-rolling gambler seeking a cash advance from the casino. The fraudster claimed that this advance would be guaranteed by a bank draft. Another fraudster played the role of the financial institution supposedly guaranteeing the advance, which apparently was enough for the casino to issue the money, after which the scammers disappeared with their ill-gotten gains.

The scam reportedly took place in August, and Quebec police subsequently arrested a 52-year-old Brampton, Ontario resident in connection with the case. The suspect is reportedly scheduled to be arraigned on charges of fraud and use of forged documents on December 12.

Police are reportedly eyeing up to a dozen other suspects for possible arrest. The suspects reportedly had similar success running the same scam at a casino in Ontario, while their attempts were rebuffed by casino staff in Alberta and British Columbia.

Loto Quebec failed to alert the public to the fact that it had been the victim of fraud, although spokesman Renaud Dugas told the JDM that an internal investigation had ruled out the possibility of an inside job. Instead, the probe determined that some staff members failed to observe “the rigorous processes in place.” Dugas said these staffers “have been disciplined, up to and including dismissal.”

Loto Quebec has remained tight-lipped regarding not only the scale of this latest fraud, but also how it stacks up against previous attempts of this nature. Of the cases that are known, JDM reported that the same casino – one of three operated by Loto Quebec – was taken for C$100k in 2009 by a Sri Lankan gang using bogus debit and credit cards.

Loto Quebec’s casino operations reported revenue of nearly C$454m in the first half of the crown corporation’s fiscal year, roughly one-third of the total revenue generated during the period.