Miccosukee Tribe Sues Insurance Company for $5M Casino Fraud Swindle

Miccosukee Tribe Sues Insurance Company for $5M Casino Fraud Swindle

Miccosukee Tribe

The Miccosukee Tribe of Florida requests compensation of $5,000,000 from its insurance, which denies the claim since the tribe did not report the loss promptly.

The Miccosukee Tribe filed a lawsuit against its insurer, Great American Insurance Company, to recover $5,3 million that was embezzled from its Miccosukee Casino & Resort in Miami-Dade County. The court convicted four employees, three spouses, and a girlfriend of stealing, computer fraud, and money laundering.

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The Beginning of the Tale

In 2015, an unidentified source informed casino personnel about the fraudulent plan. He explained that the slot technicians who were responsible for servicing the casino’s video gambling machines had developed a technique to hack the machines and obtain fraudulent credit tickets in order to generate “ghost credits.” 

These vouchers indicated that the recipient had won money, and staff exchanged cash for these credits. The fraud lasted from January 2011 until May 2015, when the tribe got the reward.

As casino officials could not determine how the scheme worked and the money was stolen, they contacted the Miccosukee Police Department. However, the police were unable to determine how the casino’s gaming machines had been manipulated.

Warned Not to Discuss the Issue Until Resolved 

The tribe then requested assistance from the FBI, which initiated an investigation immediately. The federal agency warned the casino representatives not to discuss the subject with anybody until it was resolved. 

In response to a request from the FBI, the tribe hired an internal auditor who specialized in the gaming sector to conduct an investigation.

According to a report provided by a hired auditor in August 2017, numerous casino personnel tampered with gaming machines for four years to obtain “ghost credits” and stole at least $5,283,638.

In July of 2019, when the FBI concluded its investigation, a federal grand jury produced an indictment including 63 charges and charged eight persons with engaging in the fraudulent scheme. 

Lester Lavin was recognized as the fraud’s mastermind. He began working for the casino in 2003 and was promoted to video supervisor in 2009. In 2011, he began planning to steal money from the casino with his boss and two video techs. Lavin and another defendant were sentenced to 51 months in jail in August of 2020. Two further suspects were sentenced to 37 months in jail.

Claim Submitted But Denied

The tribe presented its $5,3 million suit in August 2019, when it was no longer forbidden to discuss the topic with others. It also sent all required information and documentation to Great American Insurance Company, which operated as though it would pay the claim. However, in April 2021, “without any prior notice,” the insurer refused the $5.3 million because, according to the insurer, the tribe failed to provide timely notice of the loss, and the policies that were supposed to cover the loss were terminated.

According to Great American Insurance Company, the tribe did not notify the insurer of the loss in May 2015, when it was found. The tribe answered that it was not permitted to discuss the subject due to pending investigations. The insurer has not yet responded to the tribe’s case in court. Neither party was available for comment on the case.

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About Lou De Aguila

Lou Aguila is a news and feature writer for Golden Casino News. For over a decade, Lou has published news and featured articles for some of the most reputable sports betting and online casino sites in the world, including BetNow.UK, VegasOdds, and BWin. Apart from being a hardcore live casino punter, he also covers sports stories in North American leagues from time to time.