Crown Casino Caught Out By Fake VIP Gambling Whale - 19th October 2011


Crown Casino Crown Limited James Packer Politics Melbourne Gaming

It took a "high-value" casino whale type gambler snatched by Crown Casino about five minutes to create the paperwork that duped the venue into advancing him $125,000 that he hoped would recoup what he had lost at its tables.

Jung Hwan Choi dropped $200,000 there last year and yesterday a Melbourne court heard how his "inherently simplistic" scam beat the house.

The County Court was told that Choi was flown to Melbourne from Sydney in November last year in a visit organised by a casino marketing executive.

Prosecutor Amanda Ring advised Choi accessed his bank account at an internet cafe to transfer from his mother's account $1 and then copied the screen shot of the receipt's transaction and his balance.

With the images stored on a USB device, Ms Ring said he then imported them onto a PowerPoint program from which he changed his bank balance from $12.87 to $284,000.

Choi also altered the $1 transfer receipt to reflect a transfer of $100,000 from his account to Crown.

Arriving cashless at the casino on November 14, he was greeted by an executive host who sighted Choi's account balance and the transfer receipt and was advanced $100,000.

After gambling "heavily and unsuccessfully" that night, Ms Ring said Choi the next day was advanced $25,000 in gaming chips.

Arrested in February, Choi told police he had been "desperate" and had lost $200,000 at Crown over several months and "I wanted it back".

Defence barrister Geoffrey Steward said Crown's reaction to that "windfall" had been to ring him and invite him to dinner.

Mr Steward said Choi, 38, dined with a casino marketing executive and was gifted a $600 Louis Vuitton wallet.

"The cynical may say, 'Thank you for losing $200,000, you are welcome any time'," Mr Steward said of Choi's VIP status, which included plane trips, accommodation, limousines, food and beverages.

"You feel like a king, but he was more of a pauper than a king," he said.

Mr Steward told Judge Wendy Wilmoth that Crown did not deserve to lose its money, but to his client it was ''like a monolithic piranha dangling carrots'' of seduction, love and luxuries that were "incapable of resisting".

Choi, a married father of two, described himself as a now-reformed "gamblerholic" who had lost more than $2 million at casinos.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and one of making a false document.

Judge Wilmoth sentenced Choi to two years and three months jail, the term suspended for three years, with an order he pay compensation of $125,000.

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