How Russians have learned to cheat slot machines in casinos around the world
Russians in the United States have found a way to deceive American slot machines that run on special software that allows you to clearly calculate how much the casino should earn on each dollar spent by a player before the car gives out a prize.
About the scheme of Russians told edition Wired.
The scam was first revealed at the beginning of June 2014 in a casino Lumiere Place Casino in saint louis, missouri. Facility staff noticed that several slot machines failed and 2-3 Jun gave much more money than usual.
Since the code prescribed in their programs is not prone to sudden failures, especially on several machines at the same time, the only reasonable explanation for what is happening was that someone is cheating.
Therefore, the casino security officers lifted the recordings from video surveillance cameras on which they discovered the alleged perpetrator. Unlike most of the scammers, he did not make any manipulations with the selected slot machines, the man played Star Drifter and Pelican Petebut at the same time sneaky kept his iPhone close to the screen.
After playing a bit, he left for a few minutes, after which he returned to give the game a second chance. This time he was lucky. The player gave the machine $ 20-60, and received $ 1300. After cashing this money, he switched to another slot machine, and the cycle of his actions was repeated anew.
For the 2 of the day, he thus managed to win more than $ 21 thousands. The only thing that put him on his guard during the game was how he handled the button. Spin - he brought his finger to her and froze in this position for a while; when, apparently, a certain moment came, he sharply pressed on it. Typical gamblers don't do this, they click Spinwithout making any pauses.
Casino owners Lumiere Place Casino shared the video with the Missouri Gambling Commission, which informed the other gambling companies of the incident, who soon discovered that they were deceived in the same way, but by different criminals. In all cases, they held a mobile phone in close proximity to the screen of slot machines, after which they were “lucky”.
Soon, law enforcement officers identified the fraudster from Lumiere Place Casino. It turned out to be the 37-year-old Russian citizen Murat Bliyev.
6 June after a successful scam, he returned to Russia, but the St. Petersburg organization for which he worked (it has dozens of employees operating around the world), told him to return to the United States to conduct new scams. The decision to send Bliyev back to the USA turned out to be a rare misstep for an enterprise that makes millions by hacking the gaming industry's algorithms.
The essence of the scam
Russia became a breeding ground for gambling-related crimes in 2009, when almost all gambling was banned in the country. The ban forced thousands of casinos to start selling slot machines at unprecedentedly low prices; anyone could purchase them. Some of these machines fell into the hands of those who wanted to find the weak points of the source code of these machines.
At the beginning of 2011, casino owners in Central and Eastern Europe noticed that slot machines produced by an Austrian company Novomatic, began to pay incredibly large sums. Engineers Novomatic confirmed the authenticity of their cars and suggested that the scammers apparently learned to foresee the behavior of the machines.
Slot machines are controlled by programs that are called “pseudo-random number generators” and deliberately give confusing results. These generators take the original number, known as the seed, and then mix it with various hidden and changeable input data to produce results that are not predictable. However, if hackers manage to calculate the “ingredients” of this “mathematical stew,” then they will potentially be able to predict the result that the pseudo-random number generator will produce. The reverse engineering process is much easier when the hacker has access to the internal structure of the gaming machine.
However, the knowledge of secret arithmetic, which the one-armed bandit uses to create pseudo-random results, is not enough, since the input data differs from each other depending on the temporary state of a particular machine. Even if hackers understand the principle of functioning of a random number generator, they still have to analyze the gameplay on the machine to get to the bottom of it.
After learning about what happened in the state of Missouri, casino security expert Darrin Hawke decided to investigate this hacker operation. After interviewing colleagues and carefully examining images from CCTV cameras, he was able to identify 25 potential fraudsters who worked in casinos around the world, ranging from the state of California to Romania and Macau. 14 July 2014, the Californian authorities detained one of the scammers, confiscated his 4 mobile phone and $ 6 thousand in cash, but then the man who had Russian citizenship was not charged.
This helped to reveal the key details of the case. The criminals used mobile phones to record the process of playing the slot machine, which they were going to cheat. Subsequently, they sent a record to technical staff in St. Petersburg, who analyzed it and determined the principle of operation of the machine, based on what they knew about the pseudo-random number generator of a particular model. After that, the St. Petersburg team passed the calculations to the fraudster; With the help of a special user application, he determined the time when to press a button. Spin (the phone vibrated for 0,25 seconds before the right moment).
The average person has a reaction time of about a quarter of a second, press a button Spin it may not always happen at the right moment, but as a result it brings a lot more winnings than the car usually gives: every fraudster can win more than $ 10 thousands per day. Thus, a team of 4 people can earn over $ 250 thousands in different casinos in a week.
Murat Blyev arrived in the US 3 for the second time in December 2014. Straight from Chicago O'Hare International Airport, he headed to St. Charles, Missouri, where he met with his accomplices Ivan Gudalov, Igor Larenov and Yevgeny Nazarov. The four were planning to spend the next few days cheating on slot machines in the casino of Missouri and Illinois.
10 December, after security officers Hollywood Casino in St. Louis, Bliev was noticed inside the casino, 4 criminals were arrested. Federal authorities charged them with conspiracy to commit fraud. This was the first serious problem of the St. Petersburg organization - none of its employees had ever appeared before a court before.
Bliev, Gudalov and Larenov (all citizens of Russia) pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 2 years in prison with subsequent deportation. Kazakh Nazarov, who was granted religious asylum in the United States in 2013, is still awaiting sentencing; this suggests that he is most likely cooperating with the authorities. Company representatives Aristocrat stated that one of the 4 defendants has not yet received a sentence, as he “continues to assist the FBI in the investigation.”
After the arrest in Missouri, employees of the St. Petersburg organization began to act much more carefully. Some of their new tricks were discovered in the 2016 year, after the Singapore authorities arrested and prosecuted another group of fraudsters.
Arrests in Missouri and Singapore are perhaps the only cases in which fraudsters were brought to justice. Despite this, the St. Petersburg organization continues to send its employees to different parts of the world. Over the past few months, at least 3 casinos in Peru have reported on Russian gamblers who are cheating old slot machines. Novomatic Coolfire.
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