Bingo Bunko

Two Little Ducks

Bingo players and operators

Bingo players and operators

The Scam
Bingo? That game with the balls and the cards and the little old ladies hunched off rows of tables? Surely Bingo can't be rigged? Sure it can!

Bingo is, at heart, a small lottery with much in common to The Number's Game. Each player has a grid of numbers of a piece of card in front of them. The bingo caller at the front draws numbered balls out of a basket and calls them out. The players mark off their numbers until they have a full row of called numbers. At this point, the shout "BINGO" leap to their feet and collect their prize from the the front of the room. The game is loose, unregulated and played in small venues with small numbers of people. Cheating is not too hard with a little preparation.

Crooked Callers
If the Bingo caller is a con artist he can miscall the numbers as they come out of the basket. His accomplice in the crowd will signal what number they need to win and the con artist will simply call out that number. He may duplicate balls on his person so he can switch the balls later if a third party wants to check the balls.

Crooked Players
In smaller games, the printed cards are mass produced. This allows con artists to keep multiple cards on hand to switch in a winner at the last moment. However, this particular variation requires a great memory and a couple of extra con artists to wrangle the hundreds of cards. This type of cheating does not work at Bingo halls with seriel numbered cards.

Case Study
In the 1960's a bored millionaire's wife won $250,000 at Bingo halls across the USA. She used to assistants and was in posession of a photographic memory.

Whilst previously it was possible to win big by cheating at bingo, the restrictions now in place on large games relegate cheating to smaller games where the prize is a meat tray, a bar tab or a few hundred dollars.


Created by Nicholas J. Johnson
Australia's Honest Con Man

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