Four Winds Casino Employee Becomes Latest Victim in Suspected $700K Cash Cage Scam



  • A Four Winds employee now faces up to two decades in prison after an alleged embezzlement of $700,000 from the casino’s cash cage.
  • The employee, Young, was charged with delivering the huge amount to an unknown person in Virginia where the money has since disappeared.
  • This incident has been likened to past cash cage fraud schemes that rocked casinos in Nevada causing one retail gaming brand to lose over $1 million.

Danika Nicole Young, a long-time employee at Four Winds Casino has been embroiled in a huge embezzlement allegation. Young, 38, has been at Four Winds for 16 years where she managed millions in cash as supervisor, especially at the casino’s cash cage.

On July 30, Young was reported to have counted $700,000 in cash into a bag which she took out of the facility. She headed to Gary in Virginia where she delivered the bag of money which has since disappeared.

She faces 20 years in prison, while many believe she could have been the target of nationwide cash cage scam.

Suspect Recounts Experience with Stolen Money in Court

Young first appeared before a Van Buren County court on August 9 with another hearing scheduled for August 16. The mother of one and resident of Coloma, Michigan requested a 7th District Court Judge, Arthur H. Clarke III to grant her a personal recognizance bond.

Despite court documents which indicated that Young has family members in Van Buren and a child, the court rejected her request which could have allowed her freedom pending arraignment. Judge Clarke III expressed concerns that the suspect may flee if granted the bond requested.

Currently, Young is being held in the Van Buren County jail on a $1 billion bond. Recounting her experience, the Four Winds Casino employee noted that she got a phone call instructing her to count out $700,000 from the cash cage. She further mentioned in her testimony that the unidentified caller required her to travel down to Gary, Indiana and indicate a drop off to an unknown person.

Young has since expressed innocence, claiming that she does not have an idea about the identity of the strange caller and the recipient of the cash.

“I’m very sorry for what happened. This is my first charge,” Young said at her video arraignment.

Court records indicate that Young has no prior criminal history.

Young Faces 20 Years in Prison Over Embezzlement Counts

Unfortunately for the suspect, she now faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. In Michigan, embezzlement of $100,000 or more attracts a 20-year imprisonment sentence with fines. The court will consider all of the evidence before it to reach a conclusion. In the absence of any evidence suggesting that the call came from a superior or anyone pretending to act in that capacity, Young may well get a sentence. The court may also exercise its discretion to give her a reduced sentence considering her clean record.

The Four Winds Hartford Casino is one of Michigan’s busiest retail casinos. Located in the southwest of Michigan between Battle Creek and Benton Harbor, the casino is owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. This Indian tribe also operates the Four Winds MI Online Casino and retail sites in New Buffalo, Dowagiac and South Bend.

Like most casinos in the state, Four Winds stores its cash receipts in a cash cage which is typically closed to unauthorized personnel. Generally, staff allowed entry into the cage are not permitted to bring in phones, bags and other personal items. The activities within the cage are all monitored by live CCTV feeds. All of these could well combine to ground a conviction or acquittal for Young.

Theft Possibly Connected with Recent Nationwide Cash Cage Scams

Since news about the alleged embezzlement broke, there have been several efforts to make sense of the occurrence, with many linking it to recent cash cage frauds. Back in July, the Nevada Gaming Control Board warned casinos about a scam targeted at cash cages. According to the memo, “the cage scam is sophisticated and has been surprisingly effective in defrauding casinos.”

This highly sophisticated scam is orchestrated by criminals who hack into the casino internal phone system. They make a call to the cash cage copying a valid extension. Further exploiting AI, they make it seem like the call is from an authorized casino employee.

It was also reported that the National Indian Gaming Commission alerted casinos about this same scam. A certain Erik Gutierrez was recently charged after two incidents similar to Young’s case occurred at Circa Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas and Eureka Casino Resort, Mesquite. He was alleged to have called the cash cages and instructed cash delivery to strange locations. A large amount of cash was subsequently found in his residence.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments