New Mexico’s Greatest Casino Scam

Everyday in 2005 and 2006, Sandia Casino employees Lynn Gallo and Steve Roybal scammed the casino for a total take of $1.2 million. The first was a slot machine attendant, the second a slot supervisor. This has been the greatest casino heist in New Mexico’s history.

Stealing for Over a Year

Despite a plethora of surveillance cameras and security guards that see every aspect of the casino, Gallo and Roybal were able to loot the casino of thousands of dollars each day for over a year. An expert in casino management was appalled by the amount of money stolen for such a long period of time. They continued to get away with the crime for the simple fact that nobody was looking. Surveillance and security were not doing their jobs.

The Exploitation of Vulnerability

The two criminals were relying on the fact that nobody was being vigilant. Gallo and Roybal found and exploited vulnerability in the casino surveillance procedure. This vulnerability was found among the slot machines. The idea is simple; if a guest wins a few thousand dollars or more on slots, a casino employee will immediately give the winner the cash prize. This is a considerable vulnerability.

The Scam

Gallo and Roybal scammed the casino by creating fake jackpots on paper and keeping the cash. Gallo would hand the cashier a slip indicating a customer had won a large slot jackpot. The cashier would give the money directly to Gallo to take to the customer. This transaction required the signature of a supervisor such as Roybal. There was no jackpot, there was no winner, and it was a large con game.

A Failure by the Internal Controls

Since the Sandia Surveillance Team was not watching, the two criminals were able to steal up to $20,000 in one day. Over 15 months, the pair used this scam 550 times for a total amount embezzled equaling $1,242,581.75. The Sandia’s internal control should have identified this long before the first instance. The casino found that their Auditing or Surveillance Department did not follow correct procedure.

On October 5th, 2006, the pair pocketed more than $20,000 and was reported by an employee for suspicious activity. The casino launched an internal investigation and the two were fired. Gallo died before being indicted and Roybal received 50 years in prison. In the end, greed overtook them and resulted in their capture.