Macau Police recently released a report detailing the alarming number of fake casino chips they have come across in the first quarter of 2021.
The total haul adds up to HK$2 million (just shy of US$258,000). That’s more than the value of counterfeit chips seized throughout the whole of 2020.
Of course, with all of Macau’s casinos shuttered for long parts of that year by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be expected that gambling-related crimes would also rise along with visitors and gamblers slowly returning to the city.
The Office for the Secretary for Security thus stated that “despite some recovery seen recently, the gaming-related crime statistics of the first quarter of 2021 were not yet relevant.”
By that, they mean they aren’t statistically significant, as the rates were so unusually low last year that any comparisons made aren’t that meaningful.
Still, that’s a lot of counterfeit chips in circulation. It’s safe to assume that there are many more fake chips that aren’t caught by the police or casinos as well.
Among the confiscated forged tokens were 15 chips with a value of HK$100,000 ($12,900) each.
Suspects Still at Large
One of the biggest cases of 2021 was back in January. That month, four Macau residents were charged by police after defrauding two businessmen out of $HK1.47 million (US$387,000) they had exchanged for counterfeit casino chips, reported MacauBusiness.
The main suspect, who actually passed the bag of fake chips to the unnamed businessmen, has not yet been apprehended.
One of the indicted suspects was named locally as an unemployed Macau local called Ma.
“The suspects were later arrested in the northern district. Ma said she was only responsible for contacting the fugitive for the sale of chips, the remaining four people refused to cooperate. PJ is investigating the case and the whereabouts of the cash,” said the Macau Judiciary Police force at the time.
In none of the cases did the authorities reveal the exact casinos for which the forged chips were destined.
However, they did reveal they had busted 49 gambling-related crimes and “scams” from January 2021 until March.
In another case, a 50-year-old man from the Chinese mainland was arrested on fraud charges.
He and his accomplice, who has so far evaded police custody, managed to successfully scam some HK$200,000 (US$24,500) from an unnamed local casino.
The fraud occurred in October 2020, and both suspects got back to mainland China.
However, the arrested suspect actually returned to Macau, hoping to double dip on his successful crime.
He was nabbed by police with a further 150 counterfeit chips on his person when he attempted to return to the city in 2021.
The fraudsters used their fake chips at the tables with low-risk bets to exchange them for real ones, which they then cashed out and left for mainland China.
Four other gamblers at the casino unwittingly attempted to exchange the bogus chips on the night they were discovered.
For the latest updates on law enforcement activities in Vegas, Macau, and other global gambling hubs, plus much more, keep checking GamblingTimes.com!