Las Vegas Sun

May 21, 2019

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Officials: Scam bilked sports bettors for nearly $1 million

Federal prosecutors today filed fraud and money laundering charges against a man who allegedly used a bogus sports betting scam to bilk investors for nearly $1 million.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Nevada has charged Yul Na with 30 counts of wire fraud, 29 counts of money laundering and criminal forfeiture. If convicted, Na faces up to 20 years in prison on each wire fraud count, up to 10 years in prison on each money laundering count, a $250,000 fine on each count and forfeiture of money or property up to $962,350.

According to the indictment, Na claimed investors would be guaranteed an 8 percent return based on a system of carefully timed sports wagers with Mandalay Bay and an offshore gambling site. Na called his "sports arbitrage" system "middling" because it involved betting both sides of the same event, according to the indictment. He began marketing the scam to investors in January, prosecutors said.

Na also touted an "exclusive" agreement with Mandalay Bay to accept large layoff wagers from him at a discount of 18 percent, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors allege Na had no such betting system or agreement with the casino. Rather, he instructed investors to wire money into his personal casino account at Mandalay Bay, using the money to gamble at the property, according to the indictment.

The Internal Revenue Service and Nevada Gaming Control Board collaborated on the investigation. The agencies have strengthened such collaborative efforts in the past year with the goal of ensuring that casinos and nightclubs comply with federal cash reporting rules.

Under federal laws designed to combat money laundering, casinos, nightclubs and other cash-rich businesses are required to fill out forms when customers make large or suspicious-looking cash transactions. Casinos send them to the IRS for review.

Paul Camacho, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in Las Vegas, declined to comment on whether such cash reporting forms tipped off authorities to the alleged scam.

"Hopefully, this indictment sends a message to anyone that might be engaged in fraud that you are not completely off law enforcement’s radar when you are in Vegas," Camacho said.

He declined to comment on whether such cash reporting forms tipped off authorities to the alleged scam.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Na, who is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, Camacho said.

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