Casino heist used bitcoin ATM in elaborate $1M scheme

A 24-year-old man pleaded guilty on Monday to taking part in a scam that saw a Las Vegas casino employee tricked into handing over more than $1.1 million via a bitcoin ATM and a number of in-person transactions.

As reported by 3News, the heist happened on June 17, when a cage supervisor at the Circa Las Vegas Casino received a call from somebody claiming to be the casino’s owner. Cage supervisors deal with financial transactions between the casino and its customers, typically from behind reinforced bars.

The caller asked that an “emergency payment to the fire department for fire safety devices” was needed, adding that if the supervisor failed to deliver, casino operations would shut down resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

The supervisor, who believed they were texting their manager, was then told to deposit $320,000 into a bitcoin ATM near a gas station. She agreed and when she hit the maximum deposit limit, she traveled to meet a man posing as Circa’s attorney at another gas station to hand over the rest of the cash. 

She was then instructed to drop off $350,000 to another attorney — actually Erik Gutierrez Martinez (the man who submitted his plea deal earlier this week) — and then a further $500,000, again to Martinez, this time in a restaurant.

Read more: How Triad-linked gang used crypto and casinos to launder $10B

The casino alerted the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on June 17, saying it believed the cashier cage had been scammed or robbed. Police subsequently tracked Martinez to his aunt’s house and arrested him after discovering him with the stolen $850,000.

Martinez pleaded guilty to the theft of more than $100,000 while a total of more than $1.1 million was stolen from Circa.

In his defense, Martinez’s attorney said, “It is clear from the surrounding facts that Erik is not the mastermind behind this event. He is [24] and no history of fraud or related activities.”

According to, investigators believe Martinez may have been part of another heist that took place in March, involving $250,000 and another bitcoin kiosk.

Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on October 30 and will receive between one and 10 years of prison time. No other participants in the heist have been arrested so far.

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