Casino security and law enforcement combined efforts in fall 2014 to nab Mihai Lacatos, a 61-year-old Romanian national who is believed to have been defrauding casinos throughout the U.K. since 2008.
Lacatos used a method called “card marking” to make small holes and bends in the cards at the Playboy Club in Mayfair, London. These difficult-to-notice indentations helped him predict which cards were held by competing players.
In one week, using this method, he is said to have brought in £43,400.
He admitted committing similar fraud in 14 instances along with charges of possessing fake identification. He used bogus licenses and ID cards to enter casinos which had previously banned him.
Security footage from the Playboy Club last year showed him making tiny marks in the cards, but authorities believe he had been working this angle as far back as 2008, with the help of fake IDs. The club’s parent company, Caesars Entertainment, alerts other casinos and authorities.
Prior to being spotted at the Playboy Club, he is believed to have cheated at casinos in Leicester, Birmingham, Nottingham and Salford.
Though he was finally brought into custody in November, he was first arrested in March 2014 at the Rubicon Casino in Northampton with £1,485. While out on bail, he continued to cheat at three more casinos.
He also missed a court appearance in May 2014, which prompted a national search for him and for casinos to be on alert. He was found at the Luton Airport with £3,000.
Lacatos faces prison time for the fraud and the false ID convictions. He’s also considered the first person to be convicted of the specific crime of card marking.