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2 Charged In Counterfeit Poker Chip Scheme At Maryland Live! Casino

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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HANOVER, Md. (WJZ)— Taking a gamble and getting busted. A northern Virginia couple is under arrest after police say they tried to pass off $100 counterfeit chips at Maryland Live! Casino.

Mike Hellgren has more on how the scheme unraveled.

Federal authorities assisted in the investigation, which just came to light but actually started last month. According to police, those counterfeit chips were used to play Blackjack and Baccarat and cashed out with the cashier.

Maryland State Police recovered stacks of counterfeit chips from one of two separate theft schemes played out inside Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills.

“These are the first cases that I’m aware of in Maryland that have occurred since we’ve had casino gambling,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.

The plots were not quite on the scale of “Ocean’s Eleven” but did have some Hollywood blockbuster-like twists.

In one of them, police tell WJZ a woman named Rosa A. Nguyen, 36, spent $12,000 to buy $150,000 worth of counterfeit chips online. Then, along with her husband, 37-year-old Vuong Q. Truong, used some of them at Maryland Live! They then dumped the rest at Lake Accotink—not far from their northern Va. home.

“Fortunately for investigators the chips floated and a number of them were caught in the ice,” Shipley said.

In another scheme, police say a boyfriend and girlfriend took $1 chips from a West Virginia casino and painted them to look like $100 chips, which they too tried to pass off at Maryland Live!

“Criminals will stoop to anything to make a buck,” one man said.

“Stealing is stealing. That’s wrong. Whether it’s from a casino or from anybody,” another man said.

According to a published report, the casino has spent millions on state-of-the-art security—installing more than 1,200 closed-circuit cameras and hiring 300 officers and security specialists to scan the massive space 24/7.

“It serves as a warning to others who may think they can get away with something like this,” Shipley said.

No one with the casino wanted to do an interview on camera, but a spokeswoman did issue this statement:

“We are working closely with state police and will not be commenting on the specific details of the case, except to praise our internal security and surveillance and the police for their swift action. Our team’s ability to immediately recognize the situation allowed us to provide time sensitive information to investigators that led to the speedy apprehension of the suspects without any financial impact to our operation. This result clearly demonstrates that the systems and training deployed at Maryland Live! Casino are highly effective and should serve as a deterrent to criminal behavior.”

Nguyen is charged with one count of theft between $1,000 and $10,000 and two counts of conspiracy to commit theft between $1,000 and $10,000. Truong is charged with four counts of committing a theft scheme and one count of conspiracy to commit theft.

The case remains under investigation.

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