By Judy Berman
Few can resist the siren call of the one-armed bandits as they step off their planes into the Las Vegas airport.
Passengers are bombarded with the jangle of bells, the whirring of machines and the occasional payout of coins tumbling into the trays. They have to run the gantlet of one-armed bandits before they can even pick up their luggage
Some stop awhile to play just for luck. A rare few might win the jackpot. Others hunger for much higher stakes.
The scoundrels are always looking for an angle to beat the house. It looks so easy in the movie “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon.
Their score seems far-fetched. Impossible. But, several weeks ago, life imitated art. An Australian casino was taken for about $33 million by one of its high rollers. Just like the movie, he used the casino’s surveillance system in his sting.
In “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001), George Clooney plays Danny Ocean. Recently released from prison, Ocean and Brad Pitt (as Rusty Ryan) recruit a team of con men, safecrackers and security experts. The 11 members plan to rob three casinos that share the same vault – the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand. All of them are owned by Andy Garcia (as Terry Benedict).
Ocean’s motives are personal. Benedict is dating Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts) – Danny’s ex-wife – and Danny hopes to win her back. Plus, he hopes to scam $150 million from the heist.
To pull off this caper, Ocean’s team builds an exact replica of the vault in a warehouse. This is the vault that the casino’s monitors will be watching instead of the actual one.
Clooney, a smooth operator, pulls off this caper with sleight-of-hand skills that would make an experienced magician seem sluggish and unimaginative. Power is cut across the city. The video cameras do not betray the gang’s access to the vault, and it becomes easy pickings.
Casinos are vulnerable in real life as well.
In Melbourne, the Australian Broadcasting Station (ABC) reported that a foreigner hacked into the Crown Casino’s high-tech “security surveillance system and scammed the casino for $33 million.”
From the description of the rip-off, it sounds like the thief also was channeling Goldfinger. Envision Gert Frobe (as Goldfinger) playing cards and winning hefty amounts from his unsuspecting pigeon. His secret? High above the card game, a woman was able to view the “pigeon’s” hand thru her binoculars. Then she relayed the information to Goldfinger via an earpiece that he was wearing.
This is apparently what the thief did at the Crown. Investigators suspect that the high roller and an inside accomplice gained access to the casino’s high-resolution cameras which allowed him to “have the content phoned into him via an earpiece he was wearing,” according to ABC.
The Herald Sun reports that “cheating was exposed over eight hands of cards played in a short space of time.”
The casino reportedly kicked the high roller out of the Crown’s pricey villa. He will be prohibited from returning to the casino, and the casino employee who aided in the theft has been sacked.
Some say this could have been prevented if casinos monitored for wireless transmissions.
Crown officials are hopeful that they can recover a significant amount of the money stolen during this scam. Las Vegas-based casino consultant Barron Stringfellow said that’s unlikely “if the thief was able to leave the property with the windfall,” according to an MSN News report.
The odds are not in the casino’s favor.
Video – Movie Trailer for “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney and Brad Pitt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7VTkceSsEw
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Photo – Ocean’s Eleven – Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and George Clooney on a Dec. 7, 2001, tour of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The trio, along with Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia, visited the base to show their appreciation for U.S. troops overseas. Photo taken by Airman 1st Class Tanaya M. Harms
Photo: Crown Casino – Melbourne, Australia – taken by Adam,J.W.C. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/Eureka_on_yarra%2C_the_crown_casino_in_melbourne.jpg/575px-Eureka_on_yarra%2C_the_crown_casino_in_melbourne.jpg
Photo: Goldfinger – Gert Frobe – playing cards http://samsspot.tumblr.com/
Video and story – High roller stole $33 million from Crown Casino in Australia, similar tactics used in movie “Ocean’s Eleven” http://news.msn.com/world/man-steals-dollar33-million-from-australian-casino-in-oceans-eleven-esque-heist
Crown casino high-tech heist – Herald Sun http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/crown-casino-hi-tech-scam-nets-32-million/story-fnat79vb-1226597666337
Crown casino rocked by betting scam – ABC http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-15/crown-casino-rocked-by-massive-betting-scam/4574556
Crown casino sting … 7 news http://au.news.yahoo.com/video/national/watch/ecee6470-3b48-3fe0-aef6-4f14f1e83264/