A casino worker at the Four Winds Casino in Hartford may have been targeted in a fraud scheme that led to $700,000 missing.
On July 30, a cash cage manager named Danika Nicole Young allegedly took $700,000 in cash from the Four Winds Hartford Casino after receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a casino executive. Young admits to taking the money to Indiana, where she turned it over to an unidentified individual, according to her statement at an arraignment this past week.
The circumstances of that scenario are eerily similar to a pair of schemes hatched by scammers at other casinos, one of which netted $1.17 million.
Nevada authorities had warned of scam targeting casinos
According to reporting by WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a warning to casinos in early July about a scam targeting cash cages. “The cage scam is sophisticated and has been surprisingly effective in defrauding casinos,” the memo read.
According to WOOD-TV and Derk Boss, a gaming 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, mimicking a legitimate extension. They may also use artificial intelligence to ensure the call seems like it comes from a credentialed casino employee.
According to Boss, the National Indian Gaming Commission released an alert about the same type of cash cage scam in mid-July. It’s possible that two casinos have been victimized by the scheme before the incident at Four Winds Casino.
A man has been charged in two similar incidents that occurred in Nevada, at Circa Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. That man, Erik Gutierrez, allegedly called the cash cages at those casinos and ordered money be delivered to specific locations. Later, some of that money was found in his home.
Four Winds employee allegedly took money after taking phone call
Court records reveal that Young received a phone call to her station inside the cash cage at Four Winds Casino Hartford at 2:20 pm on Sunday, July 30. It’s unknown if she spoke to any co-workers before taking the $700,000 and driving to Gary, Indiana, where the money disappeared.
According to an attorney for Young, the casino employee claims she is innocent and does not know who the person was who instructed her to remove the money from the casino and carry to a drop-off location.
“I’m very sorry for what happened,” Young said during her video arraignment from Van Buren County Jail. “This is my first charge.”
Young reportedly has no prior criminal history, and is the mother of one child. She resides in Coloma, Michigan. The next court action in this case will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 16, when Young faces another arraignment.