Just when casinos thought they had seen it all Stefano Ampollini and two other Italians: Gianfranco Tirrito and Rocco Grassanno pulled a fast one on Les Princes casino in Cannes. It is thought that the trio had made away with thousands of euros in unfair winnings before the law finally caught up with them.
How They Did It
Who said technology is only for young boys and girls sitting behind a wall of computer screens? These three Italian men were in their fifties when they hopped across European casinos and left with wads of cash.
Their tools of choice were infra-red contact lenses and invisible ink; quite a sophisticated combination considering that the year was 2011. Somehow they managed to convince two members of staff at Les Princes casino to steal cards and hand them over to the gang who marked them with invisible ink. And going straight for the jugular, they concentrated their efforts on marking only the most influential cards and drew crosses on kings and lines on aces.
The next step was to use the contact lenses to see the ink on the cards. So basically when the group settled in for a game of stud poker they could easily tell what cards the croupier had. Their plan worked like a charm and within two nights they had siphoned €70,000 from Les Princes.
It was probably greed that spelt out the end for the Italians because they won so effortlessly that casino officials stopped and took notice. They wondered why it was that the gang’s moves were perfectly in sync with the croupier’s cards and they feared that somehow the trio knew more about the cards than they ought to. The authorities were brought into the picture and investigations began in earnest.
In a brazen and surprising move that showed just how much confidence Ampollini had in his trick, he returned to the casino about two months after the €70,000 win. Yet again his game was flawless and he managed to collect about €21,000 before the police ruined his party as he was walking out of the casino.
Ampollini’s arrest was followed by that of his co-conspirators including two French nationals one of whom was an employee of Les Princes. The resulting court proceeding turned out to be some sort of platform for the gang to showcase their work. It is rumored that Ampollini was quite pleased by the fact that the presiding judge was somewhat fascinated by the gang’s methods. Nevertheless, when the verdict was read there was nothing much to smile about. Gianfranco Tirrito received the heaviest sentence of three years in jail in addition to a fine of €100,000. This was due to the fact that it was assumed that he was the brains behind the scam. Ampollini was next in tow with two years in the slammer and similar fine. Finally, Rocco Grassanno was to serve 30 months and pay a fine of €50,000.