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World’s biggest gambling cheat stopped in tracks

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 June 2011

Francis Farrugia

Francis Farrugia

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» A Primrose Hill crook, believed to be one of the world’s biggest gambling cheats, has been snared by police after a 20-year swindling spree.

Francis Farrugia, of Carole House, Regent’s Park Road, is said to have netted millions by double dealing on roulette tables around the globe.

The 53-year-old operated as part of three-man crew, which included Italian-born Francesco Baioni, 65, and Frank Camilleri, 61.

Over the course of two lucrative decades the trio became the scourge of the gambling establishment.

With a travel itinerary that would be the envy of many, the well-oiled team hit casinos in Australia, Macau, Las Vegas and in countless European cities.

Using a technique called ‘top hatting’, they would dupe croupiers during roulette games by placing a high value chip on top of a winning number after it is called.

Dave Livermore, chairman of the International Association of Casino Security, said: “They were quite slick, but they were going a long time. They’ve been banned for 20 years.

“They targeted casinos all over the world. During the court case the judge asked his (Faruggia’s) barrister what money he used to play the casinos and he couldn’t answer because all of their money is from casinos. They didn’t have any legitimate funds.”

The cheating threesome were eventually banned from almost every casino on the planet and had to resort to using fake IDs to get into the venues.

But it was this insatiable greed for ill-gotten cash which ultimately led to their downfall.

“They got greedy and they wanted to go for higher stakes and the higher stakes are in London,” said Mr Livermore. “But the surveillance systems in London are superb and the more greedy they became the more obvious they became and they got caught.”

Camilleri and Baioni were arrested last year, while Farrugia was picked up in January this year.

Their arrests followed a police investigation which found the gang had been using false Italian identity cards to join the capital’s casinos.

Officers discovered that Baioni, another Primrose Hill resident, had more than 50 fake documents.

Both he and Camilleri were issued with suspended sentences in November 2010 and excluded from all premises regulated by the Gambling Commission for the same period of time, as well as receiving curfews.

After pleading guilty to eight charges of possessing bogus documents, Farrugia was given a nine-month suspended sentence at Southwark Crown Court and was made the subject of a supervision order.

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