SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a nine-count indictment Thursday against Vivian Wang, 53, of Lilburn, Georgia, and Frank Luo, 48, of Las Vegas, Nevada, charging them both with wire fraud and charging Wang with aggravated identity theft, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. The defendants were arrested today at their residences in Georgia and Nevada.
According to court documents, between August 5, 2008 and August 2014, Wang and Luo participated in a scheme to defraud casinos and credit card companies across the country. The scheme involved using false identities in the names and Social Security numbers of migrant workers to apply for casino credit called “markers” and to open credit card accounts. A marker is a cash advance provided by a casino to a patron, and it is often secured by a check from the patron’s bank account. The defendants initially timely repaid several markers at different casinos and several credit cards in order to give the impression of creditworthiness to future casinos and credit card companies. Moreover, the defendants coordinated their gambling activity in order to give the appearance of losing money (and thereby encouraging the casinos to issue future markers) when in fact one schemer would “lose” money while another would gain the same. In other instances, one schemer would surreptitiously deliver the issued gambling chips to another in order to give the appearance of having spent them.
According to the indictment, the defendants expended the fraudulently obtained credit on jewelry, precious metals, home appliances, international flights, luxury goods and clothing. The defendants closed and depleted the bank accounts provided to the casinos in their marker applications to prevent the casinos from recovering the money secured by the checks they had written against those accounts, and they did not pay back the credit card balances. The combined fraud led to over $1.2 million in losses to casinos and credit card companies.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew M. Yelovich is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Wang and Luo face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine as to each count of wire fraud. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Wang faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 24 months in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.