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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Nationwide Scheme to Defraud Casinos and Credit Card Companies

Red Hawk and Cache Creek Among the California Casinos Hit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Vivian Wang, 54, of Alpharetta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft related to a nationwide casino and credit card scheme, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. 

According to court documents, between August 2008 and August 2014, Wang and co-defendant Frank Luo, 49, of Las Vegas, Nevada, participated in a scheme to defraud casinos and credit card companies across the country. The scheme involved using false identities in the names and Social Security numbers of migrant workers to apply for casino credit called “markers” and to open credit card accounts. A marker is a cash advance provided by a casino to a patron, and it is often secured by a check from the patron’s bank account. Wang and Luo initially timely repaid several markers at different casinos and several credit cards in order to give the impression of creditworthiness to future casinos and credit card companies. Wang and Luo recruited “clients” to participate in the scheme to induce the casinos and credit card companies to part with even more money under fraudulent pretenses.

Wang, and others working with her, coordinated their gambling activity in order to give the appearance of losing money (and thereby encouraging the casinos to issue future markers) when in fact one schemer would “lose” money while another would gain the same. In other instances, one schemer would surreptitiously deliver the issued gambling chips to another in order to give the appearance of having spent them. At the end of the scheme, Wang and her co-schemers did not repay the casino markers or the significant outstanding credit card balances accrued in a short amount of time once creditworthiness had been established. The combined fraud led to over $1.1 million in losses to casinos and credit card companies.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Yelovich is prosecuting the case

Co-defendant Luo pleaded guilty, and on August 23, 2017, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Wang is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on May 16, 2018. Wang faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud, and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for aggravated identity theft. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
2:16-cr-111 KJM
Updated January 31, 2018