Las Vegas Man Arrested In $1.1 Million Casino Scam

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Las Vegas Man Arrested In $1.1 Million Casino Scam
© USA Today

A Las Vegas man has been arrested in a casino scam that bilked a downtown resort out of nearly $1.17 million.

Erik Gutierrez-Martinez, 23, has been taken into custody on a charge of theft of over $100,000, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Gutierrez-Martinez, who lives at an east Las Vegas trailer park with his aunt, is set to appear in court on Aug. 24 for a preliminary hearing, the newspaper reported. When arresting Gutierrez-Martinez, authorities recovered a bag marked “Circa,” containing almost $850,000. There has been no indication of what happened to the rest of the money or whether other suspects have been identified.

Con Artist Posed As Casino Co-owner 

According to police, a caller posing as one of Circa Resort's owners phoned an employee on June 17 at 4:30 a.m., saying the fire department needed a payment for fire safety devices, the newspaper reported. It is unclear whether the caller was posing as Derek or Greg Stevens, the brothers who co-own the resort in downtown Las Vegas.

The employee, who has not been arrested, was working in the casino cage, where money is kept. She was instructed to bring various amounts to two men at four locations in the Las Vegas Valley, the newspaper reported. At one of those locations, an IHOP near Nellis Air Force Base, a surveillance camera captured a license plate number that eventually led police to Gutierrez-Martinez. 

Circa Resort Cooperating In Investigation

Derek Stevens tweeted this week that the hotel-casino is cooperating with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on the investigation.

Known locally as Metro, the police department has jurisdiction over all of Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

“Although I love a good PR story, this isn’t one of them,” Stevens tweeted. “We greatly appreciate (Metro’s) efforts to date and cannot comment further due to an ONGOING investigation.”

Circa Resort, an adults-only property at Fremont and Main streets in downtown’s Glitter Gulch, is known in part for its three-story sportsbook and an outdoor water venue called Stadium Swim. When Circa Resort opened in 2020, it was the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years. 

Half Dozen Other Casinos Also Hit

On CNBC’s “Last Call” program on Wednesday, anchor Contessa Brewer said authorities have urged casino operators to be alert.

“Las Vegas police have warned other casinos that the scam works,” Brewer said. “It has reportedly been successful in some half dozen different casinos.”

The half-dozen other casinos haven’t been named, but Brewer said officials at Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts told her their properties have not been victimized in the scam. Combined, those two casino companies operate most of the major resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. 

Police said a similar scam has been carried out in another state. Authorities did not name that state.

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Larry Henry

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