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Michigan man used phony faces to steal over $100G at casinos: feds

Written by on July 23, 2020

A scam artist used prosthetic face masks and other disguises to pose as an elderly gambler and steal more than $100,000 from people at various Michigan casinos, the FBI said Thursday.

Charges against the suspect, identified as John Christopher Colletti, 55, were contained in a 17-page criminal complaint and unsealed affidavit released by a federal court in Detroit, The Detroit News reported.

The case was unsealed after Colletti was found and arrested in Kansas. He was being held in Michigan without bond.

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Beginning in May 2019, Colletti developed a scheme of purchasing people’s identities online and creating false driver’s licenses, FBI Special Agent Julia MacBeth said.

Since then, Colletti stole the identities of casino customers who were a part of a VIP program that allows cash advances from kiosks located inside the casinos, The Detroit News reported.

The kiosks are located under camera surveillance, prompting Colletti’s disguise.

The suspect was able to steal $98,840 from patrons of the MGM Grand Detroit, from April to May 2019, while wearing a full prosthetic mask, glasses, surgical masks and hats, MacBeth reportedly detailed in the affidavit.

The suspect was caught on camera wearing a prosthetic mask, blue jacket, dark cap, blue jeans and sunglasses at the MGM Grand on May 23, 2019, where he withdrew $30,000 during 15 different transactions within a 30-minute period.

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Investigators reviewed camera footage from the casinos and found that Colletti used counterfeit driver’s licenses each time he withdraw casino, according to the local news outlet.

“Then Colletti would look at a piece of paper, likely containing the victims last four digits of the patron’s Social Security Number and the last four digits of the patron’s telephone number, which were needed to complete the transactions,” MacBeth said in the affidavit.

Colletti was arrested March 12 by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kan.

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A receipt also led investigators to a shortage unit that contained 48 falsified driver’s licenses, mannequin heads used to prop up prosthetic masks and hundreds of receipts to the MGM Grand casino.

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