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Who is Tommy Glenn Carmichael?

June 29, 2022

Who is Tommy Glenn Carmichael? Tommy Glenn Carmichael spent nearly forty years manipulating and defrauding Las Vegas casinos by hacking into slot machines.

Tommy found a way to pull off some sophisticated cheating tools that guaranteed immediate winnings.

With more time in circulation and advances in technology, Tommy had to strategically change his cheating methods to keep up with the changes occurring in slot machines. He also teamed up with other casino cheaters to form a fraudulent network that cost Las Vegas casinos millions of dollars.

How it all began?

Tommy Glenn Carmichael was born in the mid-1950s, when technology began to advance rapidly.

Even as a child, Tommy was interested in how and why technology worked, and that may have been a factor in his decision to open a hardware store and repair televisions in the 1980s.

The store was located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was known as Ace TV Sales and Service. Tommy's business grew quickly and was very profitable because it was the first of its kind in Tulsa.

However, more and more stores were opening around the cakes, and Tommy found it difficult to survive losing money. His business declined as the divorce process was underway for some time.

In addition, Tommy had previously served time on community service for drug possession offenses. His life was falling apart, but he was determined to turn things around.

That's when Tommy's high school friend, Ray Ming, shows up to save the day.

Ray introduces Tommy to a mini gambling machine and a tool used to defraud casinos known as downward syndication.

With his skills already in place, Tommy "unfolds" the slot machine and begins to study its mechanical system to figure out how to use the tool for top-down syndication. After spending a considerable amount of time practicing, Tommy was now ready to try out his new technique to fool the slot machine in Las Vegas.

Since it was his first time, Tommy decided to first apply his strategy on a small machine and managed to win about $35 in just a few minutes.

He then switched to other machines at various Las Vegas casinos and won tens of thousands of dollars in just one weekend.

First arrest

Tommy then used this tactic for several years to lure millions of dollars from casinos in key areas of Las Vegas. Later, casinos became more sensitive to the hacked machines that Tommy used.

Consequently, the casinos decided to upgrade their machines with the latest technology. The slot machines were then run through a random number generator, or RNG.

This led to Tommy's having to move to smaller casinos that did not have the ability to use this advanced technology. However, because the casinos that Tommy visited were smaller, he was more vulnerable.

Without his knowledge, the police followed him for almost a week and knew of his ability to cheat. After his arrest, Tommy tried to look innocent, but the police found a joint kit in his pocket.

Tommy was sentenced to five years in prison, while he was still on probation for a drug possession offense. In prison, Tommy met Michael Balsamo, who ended up in prison for the same reason.

They spent time looking for a way to work together to commit fraud against the casino upon their release. However, as the day draws near, they both realize that their old habits are becoming obsolete because of increasingly advanced slot machine technology.

Changing methods of fraud

One such solution was a video slot poker machine launched by Bally and International Game Technology a few months before Tommy was released from prison. The new game system uses an advanced random number generator and microprocessor to operate.

Tommy knew he was capable of overcoming these obstacles, but he didn't have the capital to do so. He took a few part-time jobs and thus raised enough money to buy a video poker machine.

After almost six months, Tommy brought his video poker machine home, ready to unravel and find a way to "conquer" it. After more than a year of experimentation, Tommy was ready to try out his latest invention called the "Monkey Claw" or "Slider."

This unique cheating tool is made from a guitar strap and also from flexible steel.

If this tool was inserted into the payout channel used to turn on the coins, the switch on the miniature machine would turn on and cause the machine to dispense the coins.

Slot machines at the time were constantly being updated and monitored, so Tommy again had to create a more discreet and efficient tool. He then posed as a customer who wanted to buy one of the newest slot machines with slot tournaments.

Tommy asked casino employees to open the machine and explain to him how everything worked. And this gave Tommy the advantage that allowed him to create another tool to cheat slot machines, the "Light Stick."

This tool works the same way as the Monkey Paw, that is, it must be included in the payout channel. The Light Stick blinded the slot machine's optical sensors, so he could not count how many coins were deposited into the machine so he would not know when or how much money was paid out to the player.

Tommy not only hacked slot machines with this invention, but also sold the tool on the black market to anyone who wanted it.

The capital to make the Staff of Light was about $3, and he sold it for more than $10,000. When Tommy returned to Las Vegas, he teamed up with Ramon David Pereira and his former partner Michael Balsamo to form one of the most popular professional scams of all time.

They added new members to the group, all of whom had experience in casino fraud. Different people in their group would focus on different aspects of the scam. Some of them were in charge of monitoring and securing the casino and didn't care much about what they were doing.

Other members of the group were assigned to be the deterrent, responsible for standing in a strategic place and preventing the cameras from seeing the cheaters in action. When their system was in place, the group was able to take home an average of $5 million a day. They ended up scamming almost every casino on the Las Vegas Strip, and occasionally going into casinos in Atlantic City.

Once Michael Balsamo's mistake allowed the authorities to successfully locate the Staff of Light, enabling a slot machine manufacturer to release a new type of slot machine. This new machine was called "ticket in, ticket out," and instead of giving out cash to win, the machine gave out tickets that had to be cashed at the cash register.

The light stick invented by Tommy was no longer useful because the new machine did not have a section to hold coins.

As usual, Tommy bought this ticket-to-ticket-out machine to learn how to hack it. Like the previous machines, these accepted bills and coins, so Tommy created a device to cheat this machine known as a "tongue." This device took advantage of the shortcomings of this machine's optical computing system. Coins dropped into this machine would fall and pass through 3 light bulbs, which worked consecutively as a calculator.

But Tommy knew that he could manipulate this calculator by moving the "Tongue" device up and down in front of one of the three lights in between.

This confused the machine, and Tommy ended up being fined hundreds of dollars.

Finally caught

The group enjoyed the culmination of nearly four years of fraud until late 1996, when Tommy and members of his group visited the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Unbeknownst to Tommy new surveillance cameras could see members of this fraud group blocking other cameras.

As soon as Tommy used the "light stick" device to manipulate the car, security officers quickly rushed in and arrested Tommy.

This time, Tommy was convicted of cheating, possession of a device used for cheating, and removal of the cheating device. However, the available evidence was not enough for Tommy to endure for long, and he was eventually released after less than 24 hours.

Tommy was subsequently arrested several more times before he was found guilty of being the mastermind of America's most popular scam operation.

Tommy was sentenced to less than a year in prison and three years' probation. At the same time, both of his houses were forfeited and he must stay away from all casinos until the end of his trial.

To pay for all his crimes, Tommy volunteered to work with the Nevada Gaming Commission to create a fraud prevention device that was paired with new slot machines.

His most successful invention was called the "Protector" because it was designed to prevent all the cheating devices still in use today. Tommy tried to sell his creation to casinos, but it didn't work.

Jennifer Carvalho, Nevada's deputy attorney general, said of Tommy's creation of the anti-fraud device." He said he created an anti-fraud device for use in slot machines. However, that device could easily be changed into a cheating device."

The Nevada Gaming Commission decided to put Tommy Carmichael's name on the Nevada Black List, which means he can never set foot in a Nevada casino again. In response to their decision, Tommy said that "they can't accept the fact that I fixed the situation and made a very small profit from it."

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