Detroit Man Impersonated VIP Guests, Wore Costumes in Alleged Casino Theft Scheme

In a story that would be right at home in a crime-thriller, a Detroit man was arrested after authorities say he donned multiple disguises to defraud MGM Grand Casino patrons out of tens of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan filed charges this week against John Christopher Colletti, 55, alleging multiple crimes including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and fraud.

The criminal complaint, courtesy of WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit, details an FBI investigation into Colletti’s alleged activities. The extensive document describes how he purportedly targeted casino VIP guests, purchasing their personally identifiable information online and creating driver’s licenses in their names.

The complaint says he then would dress in “elaborate disguises, including full prosthetic facemasks” to fraudulently withdraw thousands of dollars from victims’ bank accounts using e-checks at Global Payment kiosks (GPKs). Colletti’s disguises reportedly at times also included surgical masks, hats, and glasses.

According to the complaint, Colletti was behind at least 10 cases of identity theft at the MGM Grand Casino Detroit between the dates of April 26, 2019 and May 27, 2019, resulting in a total loss of $98,840. In one such alleged incident on May 23, 2019, investigators observed Colletti make 15 separate $2,000 GPK transactions at various locations inside the casino.

Authorities allege for each transaction Colletti would insert the fraudulent driver’s license into the machine, and enter the last 4 digits of the victims’ Social Security number (which he had apparently written down on a piece of paper he was seen looking at on security cameras.) The reason for the small transactions over multiple machines was to get around the casino’s reporting requirements that kick in when a large amount of money is withdrawn in a single transaction, the complaint surmised.

WXYZ Detroit reported Colletti was in possession of 83 driver’s licenses, 14 insurance cards in various names, six open water driver certification cards, two Binghamton University staff ID cards, and 19 casino players cards.

When he was arrested on March 12 at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Kansas, he was allegedly asked by casino security personnel to use a cashier’s cage to collect more than $20,000 in cash withdrawals, which would have required his Social Security number.

According to published reports, Colletti ducked into a bathroom and ditched his elderly man costume, complete with straw hat and mobility walker, before exiting the casino. After he was soon thereafter found and arrested, casino security found parts of his costume in the bathroom along with $11,000 in cash, according to reports.

About the Author

Chris Nesi

Chris Nesi is a contributor at Michigan Sharp and the Managing Editor of Colorado Sharp. He’s been an editor and writer for more than a decade, with experience spanning newspapers, magazines, digital news, and commercial writing. His work can be found in publications including TechCrunch, Mental Floss, and Huffington Post. Chris enjoys politics and gambling, and writing about the points at which those worlds intersect.