Malaysian Marksman Admits Role in $315K Marina Bay Sands Baccarat Scam

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On a recent Tuesday, a man from Malaysia officially confessed to his role as a “marksman” in a scam operation, before a Singapore court. The scam had led to the misappropriation of S$433,730 (equivalent to US$315k) from the Marina Bay Sands. Their tactics involved the use of concealed mobile devices to relay information regarding card values to co-conspirators, suggesting a clandestine system targeting the game of baccarat at Marina Bay Sands.

Tan Kian Yi, aged 35, was on the forefront of this operation, which struck the gaming floor of the Sands casino in December 2022. Known to the law enforcement as a member of this notorious group, Yi and his accomplices utilized mobile phones to stealthily transmit images revealing the face value of playing cards.

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As shared in the examined court papers, the masterstroke of their scheme revolved around a female syndicate member, nicknamed “the Sorcerer”. She would partake in rounds of 7 Up Baccarat while an earphone connected to her phone, which was hidden, transmitted the required information about the cards to the waiting “marksmen”. Using the intel provided, and after reflecting on an Excel spreadsheet, they would instruct the Sorcerer on her next move.

The focal point of their strategy, the Excel spreadsheet, seemingly contained a mysterious formula designed to tip the odds in their favor. The actual merit of this system, however, was not disclosed during the trial.

The legal bind caused by this operation ensnared more offenders. Taiwanese national Hung Jung-Hao, aged 27, and Malaysian Chai Hee Keong, 46, join Yi in facing charges for their involvement in the scam. Meanwhile, three others – Wang Yu, Hung Yu-Wen, and Chou Yu-Lun – while suspected of being part of the syndicate, may or may not face charges.

The events that led to Hao’s capture unfolded after security footage showed the gang involved in dubious activities. Getting a whiff of Hao’s subsequent arrest, his accomplices chose to flee to Malaysia, unintentionally leaving behind $790k worth of casino chips in their hotel room at the Sands. They were later detained and brought back to Singapore.

While under custody, Yi shared that his first encounter with Wang and Hung, a couple, transpired at a casino in the Philippines in August 2022. As per Yi, Hung had hinted at a secret system capable of overturning the odds at Baccarat, an invention of a person named “Kelvin”. Yi’s lawyers maintained that there was no substantial proof linking this system to fraudulent activities, questioning the presumption that it manipulated the game’s odds beyond the casino’s anticipation.

In Singapore, under the Casino Control Act, if players are caught documenting or counting cards at a casino, they may suffer a penalty, which includes a maximum of seven years imprisonment, a hefty fine of up to S$150K, or both.

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