Arrest Made In Scam That Saw $700K Stolen From Four Winds Casino

Written By Drew Ellis on March 7, 2024

A man has been charged with stealing $700,000 from Four Winds Casino in Hartford earlier this year.

Jesus Gaytan-Garcia was arrested last week and charged with participating in a scam to take money from the casino owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

The 43-year-old Gaytan-Garcia is accused of calling the casino and falsely impersonating a tribal chairperson. That led to a Four Winds employee removing $700,000 in cash from the casino and being charged with embezzlement back in July.

Authorities find stolen cash at Gaytan-Garcia’s home

Authorities filed a federal complaint against Gaytan-Garcia last week. He has been charged with embezzlement and theft from a tribal organization. He faces up to five years in prison.

Investigators allege that Gaytan-Garcia made a phone call to Four Winds Hartford on July 30, impersonating a tribal chairperson. He then directed an employee to take $700,000 from the casino and deliver it to him in Gary, IN, saying he needed the money for an urgent matter.

The money was delivered to two people that day, one of whom is alleged to be Gaytan-Garcia.

FBI agents and the Pokagon Tribal Police worked together to determine Gaytan-Garcia was a prime suspect.

His home in Chicago was searched last week by authorities, and they discovered a bundle of cash wrapped in a paper band that had a stamp with “Hartford” on it. The stamp also contained the date of the alleged theft.

The suspect was arrested four days later.

“The amount of money involved in this theft is extraordinary,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said in a press release.

“Unfortunately, instances of telephone scams at casinos are on the rise across the country, impacting both tribal and commercial gaming operations. Thanks to the dedicated, joint investigation of Pokagon Tribal police and the FBI, we were able to identify and arrest one of the perpetrators of this scheme that targeted the Hartford Four Winds Casino.”

According to court documents, Gaytan-Garcia is from Mexico and without legal authorization to be in the United States.

Four Winds employee tricked in delivering $700K

Danika Nicole Young was the employee who took the phone call at Four Winds Hartford this summer.

Court records revealed that Young received a phone call to her station inside the cash cage at Four Winds Hartland at 2:20 p.m. on July 30. The caller, believed to be Gaytan-Garcia, convinced Young he was a tribal chairperson in need of immediate cash.

Young collected the $700,000 in cash and brought the money to Gary, IN, where the person making the call said he would be waiting.

The 38-year-old Young left the casino with the money in a bag and drove it to Gary, where she gave it to two people she could not identify.

Young was apprehended in Gary and held on $1 million bond. However, she claimed innocence and that she was just doing what was asked.

An employee of the casino since 2007 and without a criminal history, the charges against Young were dropped in December.

Casinos warned about cash cage scams

What occurred at Four Winds Casino in Hartford was something that other casinos around the country were also experiencing.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board, as well as the National Indian Gaming Commission, each issued a warning to casinos in early July about scams targeting cash cages.

According to Derk Boss, a gambling industry security expert, the scam is highly sophisticated. The criminals are able to make it appear as if they are making a phone call to the cage from inside the casino phone system. They do this by mimicking a legitimate extension. They may also use artificial intelligence to ensure the call seems like it comes from a credentialed casino employee.

Erik Gutierrez, 24, was charged with similar crimes over two incidents that occurred in Nevada. One was at Circa Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, while the other was Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. In one instance, he requested more than $1 million in payments.

Gutierrez was found in his home with money that had gone missing from both casinos.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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