Give Anthony Mark Boscarino credit. For a while, he lived every Vegas guy’s dream: He discovered a way to become a high roller without risking his own money.
Trouble is, he’s accused of duping investors into believing he had the Strip wired. They gave him millions, according to a federal indictment in Arizona, and he gave them enough hot air to affect global warming.
Boscarino, a Chicago native who used many aliases and was particularly fond of “Anthony G” and “Mike Brown.” Under any name, he is charged with 88 felony counts ranging from fraud and money laundering to tax evasion and felon in possession of a firearm in connection with a scam dating to November 2007, hitting its stride in May 2008. Estimated take: $7.68 million, most of which was gambled away at the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace, and other Strip resorts.
There’s nothing in the indictment to indicate the casinos knew they were dealing with a first-rate scammer.
Boscarino served up a remarkable buffet of baloney and made use of his e-mail and Internet skills with his many aliases to trick investors into believing he was the man with the plan to beat the House. Instead, he beat the suckers out of a bundle and, the indictment alleges, used some of the proceeds to pay for home renovations and champagne living expenses in Arizona.
Under the business banner of “Mike’s Lock Club,” Boscarino promoted an Internet gambling tout service claiming the boss had “45 years of sports handicapping experience.” No mean feat, because he was 42 at the time.
Boscarino drew in sports bettors by falsely promoting the “74 percent average success rating” of his handicapping service, the government alleges. He’s not exactly the first handicapper to lie about his record.
He then induced them to “invest” in his supposedly winning system for high-limit slots. And I thought the only way to win at slots was to own a machine.
It seems a mysterious fellow named Anthony G was so sharp with the slots his profits were as high as 1,204 percent. Boscarino/Brown touted Anthony G’s prowess, and the investor cash poured in.
Anthony G, of course, turned out to be our man Boscarino. The profits were puffery. And the investor cash was gone.
Then there’s the “John Project,” which was not a bathroom remodeling plan but a highly profitable hedge fund run by a genius named John Campbell, who Boscarino explained had increased his portfolio 400 percent.
You guessed it: There was no John Campbell, no hedge fund, no soaring profits. Just another black hole.
There was the “Project Drill” scam and the “Collateralized Mortgage Obligation Investment” scam, both of which were designed to attract investors and disguise Boscarino’s mounting losses on the Strip.
That’s the thing about living large as a Vegas high roller. Somebody always gets stuck with the check. In this case, it was a series of starry-eyed carp who entrusted millions in the care of a guy with a 1990 felony forgery conviction and a family history going all the way back to the Chicago Outfit. Boscarino’s father, Angelo, was murdered by the mob in the 1960s.
The craziest thing is, Boscarino might still be plying his trade if he’d taken time to file a tax return since 1999. The IRS claims he hasn’t. In 2009, he agreed to settle with the IRS for $400,000 in unpaid taxes from 1999 to 2006. In 2008 and 2009, Boscarino and wife Marguerite Gerhart gathered an estimated $5.2 million from investors.
By whatever name you call him, Anthony Boscarino’s days of scamming suckers are over. Consider it the lock of the year.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.