Readers, I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again: Do not cheat at blackjack. I know that people have different reasons and justifications for cheating at a casino, but there are two very good reasons not to do it: 1) It’s morally wrong. 2) It’s not worth the risk.
Phuong Quoc Truong found that out the hard way. On Monday, the San Diego man was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 70 months (almost 6 years) in prison and will have to pay $5.7 million in restitution to the casinos and $2.8 million to the federal government. In addition, he has to forfeit two homes, property in Vietnam, his Porsche and other assets.
Truong was convicted of leading a criminal organization called the Tran Organization that bilked 27 tribal casinos out of approximately $7 million. According to the court, Truong led a gang of 37 people and used an organized system to defraud the casinos out of millions. They did so, in part, by using the “false shuffle” scam.
In the scam, members of the Tran Organization would bribe or intimidate blackjack and baccarat dealers into agreeing to be part of the conspiracy. Once they were on board, the dealer would do a false shuffle when given a certain signal. The dealer then leaves a certain part of the deck unshuffled, creating “slugs” of unshuffled cards. The dealer would then signal to the Tran members when the slugs are coming up in the deck and, knowing what order the cards are going to come in, they would bet accordingly. The Tran Organization also supposedly used hidden transmitters and computer software to track the order of cards.
Even though they spread their crimes out over 27 casinos instead of focusing on one, the authorities eventually noticed and the FBI made the arrests. Wanting to get rich, Truong now has to hand over most of his assets and spend the next 5+ years in prison.