Alleged Scammer Arrested in Connection to $700k Theft from Four Winds Casino

Jessica Aletor
Jessica Aletor


  • A middle-aged Mexican national has been identified as the prime suspect in the $700,0000 cash cage scam at Four Winds Casino at Hartford.
  • The prime suspect was identified and arrested after months of joint investigation by the FBI and Pokagon Band Tribal Police.
  • National Indian Gaming Commission issues warning about increase in cash cage scams amidst proliferation of Artificial Intelligence tools.

Authorities have arrested a man in connection to the theft of $700,000 from the Four Winds Casino in Hartford earlier this year. The arrested man, Jesus Gaytan-Garcia, is 43 years old and was arrested last week.
He has been charged with participating in a scam to take money from the casino owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
Gaytan-Garcia is accused of posing as a tribal chairperson during a phone call to a casino employee, a deception that resulted in the employee extracting $700,000 in cash from the casino. This incident led to the employee being charged with embezzlement in July.

Gaytan-Garcia Charged by Authorities as Prime Suspect in $700,000 Theft from Four Winds Casino

In July, Jesus Gaytan-Garcia successfully deceived the Four Winds Casino in Hartford, Michigan, swindling them out of an astonishing $700,000. This casino is notably one of Michigan’s busiest retail casinos and is managed by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

The Tribe also oversees the Four Winds MI Online Casino, along with other retail locations in New Buffalo, Dowagiac, and South Bend.

Investigators discovered that Gaytan-Garcia executed the scam by masquerading as a tribal chairperson. Under this guise, he instructed a casino employee to extract $700,000 and bring it to him in Gary, Indiana.

The employee recounted that Gaytan-Garcia alleged the need for the money was urgent. According to the employee, the cash was handed over to two individuals, one of whom is now believed to be Gaytan-Garcia himself.

A federal complaint against Gaytan-Garcia was filed last week, accusing him of embezzlement and theft from a tribal organization. He is at risk of receiving a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Court documents reveal that Gaytan-Garcia is a Mexican national and does not have the legal authorization to reside in the United States.

Telephone Scam Resolved by Joint FBI-Pokagon Band Tribal Police Effort 

A collaborative effort between FBI agents and the Pokagon Band Tribal Police led to the exposure and subsequent arrest of the impersonator and scammer.

After months of investigation into the theft by agents and detectives from both organizations, they pinpointed Gayton-Garcia as a key figure in the case.

Authorities conducted a search at Gaytan-Garcia's residence last week, and he was taken into custody four days later. During the search, law enforcement officials found a large sum of money, bound by a paper band marked with "Hartford" and the date of the theft.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan remarked on the significant amount of money involved, labeling it as "extraordinary."

“Unfortunately, instances of telephone scams at casinos are on the rise across the country, impacting both tribal and commercial gaming operations,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said in a press release.

“Thanks to the dedicated, joint investigation of Pokagon Tribal police and the FBI, we were able to identify and arrest one of the perpetrators of this scheme that targeted the Hartford Four Winds Casino.”

Scammer Impersonated Tribal Chairperson to Manipulate Unsuspecting Casino Employee 

Danika Young, a 38-year-old veteran employee at Four Winds Hartford, was the one who answered the fateful phone call at work.

Following the caller's instructions, Young withdrew $700,000 in cash and placed it in a bag. Then she took it to a gas station in Gary, Indiana, where she handed it over to two previously unidentified individuals.

Subsequently, Young was arrested in Gary on charges of theft and embezzlement, with bail set at $1 million. She maintained her innocence, asserting she was merely following instructions. There were speculations that she was just a victim.

Being with criminal history and in the absence of evidence of culpability, the charges against Young were dropped in December. Young has been working with the casino in various capacities since 2007.

National Indian Gaming Commission Issues Warning about Cash Cage Scams 

The situation in Hartford is not unique. Both the National Indian Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board have alerted casinos to cons aimed at cashiers.  

These fraudsters manage to simulate a call to the cashier, making it seem as though it is originating from the casino's own phone system by impersonating a genuine extension. 

Furthermore, they can employ artificial intelligence to make the call sound as if it is being made by an authorized casino staff member. 

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