Thief conducts elaborate casino scam, finally gets busted


If there were annual awards for criminals, John Christopher Colletti would win in the most creative disguise category. For more than a year, he managed to hide his identity and rip off several casinos in Michigan, ultimately getting away with over $100,000. He pulled off his capers by copying the identity of a gambler, even going so far as to use prosthetic face masks to avoid getting caught. However, the law finally caught up with him and his days of dress-up and thievery have come to an end.

According to The Detroit News, the 55-year old began his escapades in May of last year. Colletti had concocted a scheme that included the purchase of stolen identities and using the data to create fake driver’s licenses. From there, he was able to steal the identities of casino customers who belonged to an MGM Grand Detroit VIP programs that, as a perk, offered cash advances at kiosks located inside the gambling venues. Since the kiosks are under the watchful eye of casino surveillance at all times, he used his elaborate disguises to fool everyone. Between April and May of last year, he walked away with about $98,840, having donned a full prosthetic mask, glasses, hats and other elements to cover his face.

On one particular occasion, he conducted a total of 15 transactions to withdraw $30,000 within 30 minutes. However, security personnel became a little suspicious and ultimately started to put the pieces together. According to FBI Special Agent Julia MacBeth, surveillance footage helped unravel the mystery and showed how 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” each time he approached a kiosk.

By the time Colletti was identified, the FBI had to figure out where he was. It didn’t take long to follow the trail and he was ultimately picked up by Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas. The investigation that followed included the discovery of a storage unit he rented that contained mannequin heads sporting the prosthetic masks, hundreds of receipts from the MGM Grand and 48 fake driver’s licenses. He has reportedly already been extradited to Michigan and is now being held behind bars, with no bond possible.

It can’t be just a coincidence that his escapades included the MGM Grand. While there has not been an official connection made, the casino’s owner, MGM Resorts, was hacked last summer and over ten million customers had their data stolen. MGM tried, at first, to deny the hack had taken place, but eventually came clean.