Casino fraudsters walk free from court

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Two international gambling cheats walked free from court today after admitting possessing a series of fake IDs to use in casinos they were banned from.

As part of a global gang, Francesco Baioni, 64, and Frank Camilleri, 61, travelled the world cheating casinos out of money.

The pair - who police described as "notorious" and "professional" - served time in America after cheating their way to "vast" amounts of cash.

Today, Baioni, of Rackstraw House, Primrose Hill, was given a 12-month sentence suspended for 18 months.

Camilleri, of Derrick Road, Beckenham, was sentenced to nine months suspended for the same period.

Both were also hit with an 18-month curfew between 11pm and 6am and were barred from all premises regulated by the Gambling Commission for 18 months.

Police would not discuss the tactics that landed the Italian duo so much money over the years but did reveal they had operated in countries including China, Australia and America.

Both were caught on CCTV at various central London casinos conducting reconnaissance visits and attempting to sign up for membership, using false identities.

In one, Baioni was filmed being refused membership at a casino after the false identity he was attempting to use was flagged up on the operator's computer system as "barred".

The pair were caught following an intelligence-led operation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command.

On August 9 search warrants were executed at their homes and Baioni was arrested.

Detectives discovered "a large quantity" of fake Italian identity documents - containing pictures of Baioni and Camilleri.

All bore false names.

There were also numerous false identities awaiting pictures and individual passport photographs of both men prepared to be attached to the documentation.

On August 23 Camilleri was arrested at Gatwick Airport when he flew back from Malta.

Both men were charged and last month Baioni admitted nine counts of possessing false documents with intent, possessing articles for use in fraud and making articles for use in fraud.

Camilleri admitted eight counts of possessing false ID documents with intent.

Speaking after today's sentencing, Detective Inspector Ann-Marie Waller of the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) said: "It is through the dedication and professionalism of the SCD9 Gaming Unit and strong links with the International Association of Casino Security Industry that the two most prominent members of this organised criminal network have been brought to justice."

David Livermore, chairman of International Association for Casino Security, said: "Baioni and Camilleri have been known as international casino cheats for more than two decades.

"The International Association for Casino Security has produced evidence in this case showing that they have committed similar such offences around the world for many years.

"Casinos, particularly in the UK, are no longer an easy target for these criminals.

"We are more determined than ever to protect our businesses from loss through fraud and to keep crime and criminals out of casinos.

"We expect that criminal networks will continue to attempt such crimes again and with our worldwide network of professional casino surveillance and investment in fraud prevention measures, I believe that we will continue to have successes such as this.

"The Metropolitan Police Service's Gaming Unit, along with its partners in the industry, is fast becoming the most effective force in the world at disrupting and prosecuting these criminal gangs.

"They deserve a great deal of credit for their professionalism and their ability to use resources to maximum effect in this area of detection and prosecution through this joint policing initiative with its casino industry partners."