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14 accused of using casino kiosks to run $1-million bank scam

Fourteen people in Southern California have been indicted on charges of stealing more than $1 million from Citibank through a scam involving cash-advance kiosks at casinos, federal prosecutors in San Diego announced Friday.

The scam involved making simultaneous withdrawals far in excess of the amount in the individual's account, according to court papers. The bank's security system was not equipped to detect simultaneous withdrawals.

The alleged mastermind was Ara Keshishyan, 29, of Fillmore. Co-defendants are from Glendale, North Hollywood, Burbank, Winnetka, Mission Hills, Huntington Beach and Pasadena.

The casinos involved include the Morongo, Pechanga, San Manuel, Aqua Caliente, Chukchansi and Spa Resort casinos in California, and the Tropicana, Wynn, Bicycle and Whiskey Pete's casinos in Las Vegas, and Harrah's in Laughlin, Nev.

After getting money from the cash-advance kiosks, some of the 14 would then go on gambling sprees at the casinos, with some of the casinos giving them free rooms after mistaking them for high-rollers, according to the indictment.

All 14 co-defendants face a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Keshishyan faces multiple charges of bank fraud.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

 
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