One suspect remains on the loose and four others were arrested after allegedly employing jamming devices to steal thousands of dollars from gaming machines in Florida. The machines were in arcades located in Columbia County.
County sheriff’s deputies arrested three men and a woman in two incidents late last week. They are charged with fraud, according to WJXT, a Florida TV station.
They were identified as: Gabrien Brooks, 25, Jordan Stoney, 23, Khadijah Thomas, 27, and Brandon Walls, 31, WJXT said. Each of the four Charlotte, N.C., residents posted bail, the report adds. Their cases will be heard in local courts.
Last Thursday, Brooks and Stoney showed up at a Columbia County arcade. The pair allegedly used an electronic jamming device to transmit a signal to the gaming machines.
Through the signal, the duo allegedly tricked the machines to show fraudulent winnings, WJXT said. An arcade manager saw the two were using the jamming device and then tried to collect $900 at a gaming table, WJXT added based on deputies’ reports.
The manager then called 911 to report the incident. He and arcade security staff locked the doors. That way, the men were trapped until officers arrived.
Deputies recovered a jamming device from the men. Deputies also seized a large sum of cash, WJXT said.
The manager at the arcade further claimed to remember Brooks and Stoney from another gaming site.
8K Defrauded From Arcade
The night before, the duo allegedly defrauded gaming machines out of $8,000 while at the other arcade, the manager told deputies.
Also last Thursday, there was a similar plot at still another arcade. Three people there were using a jamming device, deputies said. Walls, Thomas, and a third person repeatedly cashed out tickets worth over $100, deputies said. In total, the trio allegedly defrauded the arcade out of more than $2,200.
The machines there detected an external device. The sheriff’s office was notified.
Walls and Thomas still were at the arcade when deputies arrived. During a search of their car, deputies spotted six devices that appeared to be used for electronic jamming.
The third person left the arcade to avoid deputies. That person was not arrested as of Friday.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Steven Khachigan told WJXT that such arcades are a “soft target” and also have a lot of cash on hand. In this case, the five suspects had a “very well-thought-out plan,” he added.
Simulated Gambling Machines Banned in Jacksonville
In nearby Jacksonville, Fla. simulated gambling machines at arcades were basically banned in 2019. That led to the closure of many of these local arcades.
The arcades were considered a “public nuisance” by city officials because they allegedly attracted crime.
Elsewhere, use of electronic jamming devices has been seen at gaming arcades in recent years. For instance, two men were arrested in 2019 for using one at a Raleigh, N.C., arcade to steal $6,800, according to WNCN, a local TV station.
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