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Thread: Couple Gets Scammed Out of $6,500 in Shady Casino Game in Dominican Republic

  1. #1
    Bronze The Shrink's Avatar
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    Couple Gets Scammed Out of $6,500 in Shady Casino Game in Dominican Republic

    A gay newfie couple got bilked out of $6500 by flim flam artists at a DR casino in Punta Cana.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfo...wing-1.5100278

    Cliffs:
    -couple goes into casino
    -offered $25 "complimentary" casino chips to play a specific game that looks like complicated roulette
    -after playing a while they are told they are one point away from winning a big jackpot
    -they continue to play (unbeknownst to them they are now playing on credit)
    -they don't hit jackpot (which is actually impossible to win) and they are told by security they owe $1000 (which somehow converts to $6500 CND)
    -they are led to ATM by security who bully them into making multiple withdrawals and calls to their bank until they transfer/pay a total of $6500
    -they go back to their hotel and complain; hotel manager says they have no recourse because the hotel isn't affiliated with casino; kicks them out of hotel!
    -Sunwing (travel company) relocates them to different hotel
    -they try going to police station but this is such a common scam it's basically useless

    This is a very common gambling scam. As far as I can tell it is a variant of an old con job called "Razzle" (AKA: Razzle-Dazzle, Football, Ten Points Win, Baseball, Mo-Co, Indian Poker, Cajun Bingo)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razzle_(game)

    After getting scammed the couple researched it and found many stories about this scam dating back over 10 years. TripAdvisor has tons of stories about it. Here's one thread: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserR..._Republic.html

    Someone snapped a photo of the game itself. As you can see it's incredibly complicated which allows for the scam to take place. It's set up so you can never win but it feels like you're close to winning.

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    On the one hand, they are rubes. On the other hand, you need more people to be open about getting scammed so that stories like these make the news and fewer people will get taken going forward. In fact, Sunwing and other travel companies should advise all travelers in advance about these scams.

     
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  2. #2
    Druff, this would be a great topic for the radio show. This shows how careful you have to be outside the US.

  3. #3
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Definitely gonna cover this on radio later tonight.

    Thanks for the story. Really interesting.

    Casinos in third world countries are notoriously shady, and you really have to watch out.

    I have a feeling Colonel Fabersham may have to place a call to this casino.

    Also, how amazing is it that one of the guys has the last name of "Bungay"?

  4. #4
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    So this story is very fascinating. I've looked into it a bit more.

    First off, while the gay guys in the story definitely got scammed, I think they omitted some parts of the story -- either out of forgetting what occurred due to the trauma of what happened, or out of embarrassment.

    I read The Shrink's Tripadvisor link, and the posts about the scam (which are numerous and date back 7 years) almost all read the same.

    Here's an example of one:

    All of these reviews are correct. We lost over $5,000 US in a progressive roulette casino game that you CANNOT WIN.

    We were playing Blackjack and after losing 30$ each we were leaving the casino and at the door Some pretty women employees offer you free chips to lure you to the game Thinking the RIU is a respectable place you give it a shot and are not really paying close attention to the game and they have this pretty girl beside you at the table while you throw the balls to distract you when the Dealer counts the 8 balls in the small roulette, and why would you recount the 8 balls if the Dealer gives you point ?

    First as it seems like you are rolling great rolls to start and your points are adding up quickly. The dealer is a professional in what he is doing when he counts the balls it seems really legit, he is a white American and he tells you that he owns a MMA school, his ears are messed up deformed like the MMA fighters, he becomes really friendly with you to make you comfortable. You quickly get close to the large jackpot before you have to start making bigger bets. He tells you that you are doing amazingly well and only 1 point away to win like 6000$ US , he ask you really nicely to give or show your credit card and sign a paper and that you will not have to pay anything because your bets will just be subtracted from your inevitable winnings so they dont even try to cash out money on your card because you will win anyway.

    If you need to leave the casino to go get your credit card in your room, he writes your score on a paper and tell you that they close at Midnight so whenever you come back with money or credit card you will keep playing at the same score that you were. However, then the bets constantly double, so when the pot is 102 000$ US the bets are 2560$ each for throwing the balls, so your thinking ok its ridiculous the next double up my bet will be 5120$ US and after another double 10 240$ for trowing the balls and a jackpot of 400 000$ US, so you clearly realize that its a total scam. And at the end when you really count the balls its the real score but you just cannot reach a score with 8 balls that give you points, its just double your bet and double the pot. So even if you try to sue them you cannot do nothing because the part were you got scammed is when they gave you points at the beggining so you cannot prove anything.

    A real shame that a nice resort like RIU would allow this to happen on their property. DO NOT GO INTO THIS CASINO OR ANY PRIVATE CASINO ... YOU WILL WASTE YOUR VACATION
    It seems that a credit card is involved -- where they give you free chips initially, but each bet doubles from the previous one. You score really close to the 100 points necessary (often 99), to where it seems like if you're just slightly luckier on the next roll, you'll win the jackpot. The jackpot appears to start out fairly small, but rises quickly as your (mandatory) bets rise quickly.

    When people keep failing to hit 100, they're asked for their credit card to pay the rapidly doubling bets, but are told not to worry, because it's inevitable they'll hit the jackpot very shortly, and whatever they owe will come off the jackpot win, thus the credit card will never be charged.

    The victim will then sign the credit card slip.

    Then they keep doubling the bet over and over until the victim finally panics and puts a stop to it. At this point, they try to charge the card, and if it fails, they will pressure them to get the money some other way, via various threats.

    The gay guys' version of the story is similar, but leaves out the credit card part, and has them bailing out before the $US1200 roll. Yet somehow that translated to $6500 Canadian in their story, which they were pressured into paying.

    Yet none of the other stories I've read involve a crazy exchange rate or charges which didn't add up. They all simply involve the rapidly doubling bet, and the fact that the game can't be won.

    And the reason it can't be won is because the dealer (a "white American") scoops up the 8 balls so quickly and counts for you, that there's no way for you to see if you really made 100 points. So he just falsely tells you that you got "99" on the first few rolls, and then keeps you on the hook with subsequent rolls of doubled expense until you finally realize he's never going to claim you got 100.

    The story I quoted above talks about the bets being "$2560" and "$5120". This totally makes sense because 256 and 512 are powers of 2, so if the bets start out at $10 and keep doubling, they will eventually get to $2560 and $5120.

    So it looks like the bet order is probably:
    $10
    $20
    $40
    $80
    $160
    $320
    $640
    $1280
    $2560
    $5120
    $10240
    $20480
    $40690
    etc

    I wonder how far they go with this until they call it off and just demand collecting the money. I wonder what the most is that they've ever collected from someone. Recall that some whales big bring $ to casinos (or have a way to get it wired there), so it wouldn't shock me if they hit some poor suckers for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or perhaps millions.

    It looks like the typical haul is around $5000, according to the review. That would mean the people would have made the $2560 bet, which combined with all others, would leave them owing $5110, minus whatever little they started with in "free" chips.

    Maybe after the $2560 point is where the casino puts a halt to everything and tries to collect before continuing.

    There's also bottom-dealing accusations regarding the blackjack, which is probably also true.

  5. #5
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Also interesting is the fact that this isn't occurring at an independent little casino, but rather the one associated with the Riu hotel there.

    Riu is an international hotel chain, with properties in 8 countries, including the US: https://www.riu.com/en/hotel/index.jsp

    Cleary the Riu hotel is aware of the scam (and employees are probably given a piece of the action), as they've been denying association with the casino for 7+ years when people complain, and in the gay guys' case, they were thrown out for continuing to argue about it.

    If enough of a big deal was made about this, Riu could probably be shamed into shutting this down.

    Given that they have properties in Miami and NYC, I'm guessing they could also be sued in the US, and then collected from easily. Perhaps they could worm out of it by claiming that all hotels are independently owned and operated and are just renting their brand, but I would think they would still have liability after 7+ years of complaints.

    Maybe we will have attorney Eric Bensamochan on the show to discuss that part of it.

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    The Sunwing Travel Company seems to be another shady operation.

    They're based out of Canada, which is why you haven't heard of them if American.

    Check out these reviews on Yelp for Sunwing: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sunwing-vacations-etobicoke-2

    It seems that Sunwing is a disorganized mess, and they entice people with seemingly cheap all-inclusive vacations. Then people end up having a horrible experience in just about every way possible.

    Keep in mind these bad reviews are for other destinations -- not even the Punta Cana scam here!

    Sunwing is no doubt very aware of the scam at the Riu, but they probably get the hotel very cheaply (likely BECAUSE of the scam), so they can make a lot of money on these "vacations", despite the low price.

    That's a big problem in general when you let travel companies book your airlines, accommodations, etc. They often have super-discounted contracts with airlines, hotels, tour operators, and you get the bottom barrel shit of everything.

    Or, as my Jewish grandfather used to say, "I'm not rich enough to afford a bargain."

  7. #7
    Bronze The Shrink's Avatar
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    Here's a good video showing Razzle Dazzle in action. I suspect the 8-ball roulette scam is very similar.


     
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    The Sunwing Travel Company seems to be another shady operation.

    They're based out of Canada, which is why you haven't heard of them if American.

    Check out these reviews on Yelp for Sunwing: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sunwing-vacations-etobicoke-2

    It seems that Sunwing is a disorganized mess, and they entice people with seemingly cheap all-inclusive vacations. Then people end up having a horrible experience in just about every way possible.

    Keep in mind these bad reviews are for other destinations -- not even the Punta Cana scam here!

    Sunwing is no doubt very aware of the scam at the Riu, but they probably get the hotel very cheaply (likely BECAUSE of the scam), so they can make a lot of money on these "vacations", despite the low price.

    That's a big problem in general when you let travel companies book your airlines, accommodations, etc. They often have super-discounted contracts with airlines, hotels, tour operators, and you get the bottom barrel shit of everything.

    Or, as my Jewish grandfather used to say, "I'm not rich enough to afford a bargain."
    Sunwing have cheap vacations. Tons of people I know have used them.

    I wouldn’t say they are scam artists they just offer cheap vacations and I’m not surprised there are poor reviews.

  9. #9
    What a heinous scam. They get away with it because while 6500 is steep, it isn't that steep that most people will just feel suckered and not pursue thru legal avenues throwing good money after bad. What about a class action law suit?
    Last edited by FRANKRIZZO; 04-27-2019 at 06:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Some more "more you know" info. Looks like this fascinating scam of a game has been around for a LONG time at carnivals and was quite a money maker in 1950s Cuba...

    https://www.goodmagic.com/websales/midway/razzle.htm

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