Grand Macao Casino Review

Grand Macao casino logoOf all the Affactive Group websites, the Grand Macao Casino may have had the worst reputation. Sites like AskGamblers blacklisted Grand Macao and the other Affactive websites years ago, but that is not the reason the casino is now closed. Instead, it was the criminal handiwork of the site’s owners which brought things to such an abrupt end.

Long before that, Grand Macau casino garnered a “massive amount of complaints” with stalling tactics to delay payments. These tactics read like a checklist of black hat casino traits: bogus security checks which took months to resolve, pressure on players with slow payments to start depositing more money, and offers of guaranteed payments for lesser amounts (if the problem would go away). In short, Grand Macao Casino was a disaster. This was the site which got all of the Affactive Media/NetAd Management sites blacklisted on one of the watchdog communities.

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Timeline of Grand Macao Casino

2008 Grand Macao Casino launches.
2010 Affactive Group, the affiliate program for Grand Macao Casino, receives Worst Casino Group of 2010 by CasinoMeister.
2011 Representatives for Affactive Media and Rome Casino (TopGame) engage in a public dispute on the CasinoMeister forum after Rome Casino claims Affactive launched a cyber-attack on their site.
2011 Affactive Group wins Worst Casino Group of 2011 by CasinoMeister.
2012 Grand Macao Casino is one of several websites to go offline for a month in late-November and early-December of 2012, due to a problem with an update. All are owned by NetAd Management, the parent company of Affactive Group.
2013 Affactive Group wins Worst Casino Group of 2013 by CasinoMeister.
2014 Revenue Jet wins Worst Casino Group of 2014 by CasinoMeister. No one knows this at the time, but Revenue Jet is owned by the same people as Affactive Group.
2014 J.P. Morgan-Chase is the target of the biggest cyber-attack in United States history. The hackers gain access to 83 million accounts.
2015 Anthony Murgio, a US citizen, is arrested on July 23 in Florida. He is one of four men indicted in the JP Morgan cyber-attack case.
2015 Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, both Israeli citizens, are arrested on July 23 in Israel. Shalon and Orenstein are also indicted in the JP Morgan hacker investigation.
2015 On July 24, Affactive Media and Revenue Jet affiliate managers inform members of the affiliate programs that all NetAd Management and Milore Ltd. domains have been seized. Accounts have been frozen. The owners of those businesses are Shalon and Orenstein.
2015 Gary Shalon, Ziv Orenstein, and Anthony Murgio are arraigned in US court in November 2015. They continue to await trial.
2016 Joshua Aaron, a Florida resident and US citizen, is the fourth man indicted in the JP Morgan cyber-attack case. He remains free, and Russia is his likeliest place of residence.

Grand Macao Casino Profile

Grand Macao Casino launched in 2008 as one of several NetAd Management casinos. Affactive Media was the affiliate program for the site. The online casino was one of several websites owned by NetAd Management, a company which claimed to be based and licensed in Curacao.

An online gambling watchdog group called the authorities of that island nation and the officials said they had never heard of the group. In short, Grand Macao Casino was an unlicensed casino. It operated without any oversight or any constraint, using slick web design and aggressive advertising to draw new customers.

NetAd Management Network

Network iconOne tactic the NetAd Management websites used was cross-marketing. Gamblers would complain that a sign-up at one site meant they were bombarded with ads for other websites. These players complained that a site like Grand Macao sold their information to other sites, but that wasn’t the case. All the identity information was fed into the same database.

That is why NetAd had multiple sites, so they could victimize their customers several times. They were like a spider spinning a series of webs; if one strand of the web was taken down, others existed. From 2008 to 2010, Grand Macao Casino continued to operate with impunity.

Worst Casino Group Awards

Worst Casino Group of 2010

Bad iconIn 2010, respected review site CasinoMeister announced Affactive Group, the affiliate network of NetAd Management, as their “Worst Casino Group of the Year“. The announcement of the dubious award mentioned “predatory terms and conditions” which included a stipulation which stated the special contest winners would be decided by “player group.” This was an ill-defined term which allowed sites like Grand Macao to award winnings to anyone they chose — or no one at all. It was a pure scam website.

Even then, Grand Macao escaped a great deal of the bad press. The CasinoMeister awards announcement mentioned three of the Affactive Group’s casinos by name: Slots Jungle, Mayflower Casino, and Casino Titan. While a player who wanted to do any amount of additional research could learn that Grand Macao was a part of the network, the site continued to sign up players and scam the world.

Worst Casino Group of 2011

CasinoMeister gave the casino network the same award in 2011. This was not piling on, because Affactive Group sank to new lows. In a foreshadowing of the kind of malfeasance which would bring down NetAd Management, the gaming company was accused of launching a massive DDoS attack on the Rome Casino/TopGame Technology network. Affactive Group made the astounding countercharge that they only took action because TopGame was going to launch an attack on them.

The group won “Meltdown of the Year” for the flame war which took place on the CasinoMeister forums. Representatives of both gaming groups began to air their dirty laundry on the forum. CasinoMeister described the public relations debacle in the following way: “Jaws hit the floor as the posts were made between the accuser — Rome Casino, and the accuse (sic) — Affactive. The verbal fisticuffs that began to fly were unprecedented — it was a train wreck in slow motion.”

Saying that he shut down the thread because he was appalled that iGaming reps would engage in such a humiliating display, CasinoMeister said he would shut down the accounts of the various parties.

Worst Casino Group of 2013

The NetAd/Affactive gaming group got a reprieve from CasinoMeister in 2012, but they were back in 2013 as the Worst Casino Group of the Year. This time around, CasinoMeister gave the award because so many players were coming to the forums to complain about the site’s slow-paying methods. NetAd Management would halt payments at $500 a week, even for people who won the TopGame Technology progressive jackpots. A number of other infractions were discussed, including rollover requirements on cash deposits.

Even then, CasinoMeister did not tie Grand Macao Casino to the Affactive Group. The casinos listed in the online award announcement were Begado Casino, Casino Titan, Golden Cherry, Slots of Fortune, Jackpot Grand, Slots Jungle, and Winpalace Casino. Grand Macao continued to fly under the radar screen.

Worst Casino Group of 2014

The same group won the CasinoMeister Worst award a fourth time in five years in 2014, though no one knew it was the same group. By this time, the Affactive Group’s reputation was in the mud, so its owners launched a new group of sites. These were owned by Milore Ltd. and its affiliate program was named Revenue Jet. Despite the name change and other deceptions, the operators’ bad actions were so consistently bad that they won the award.

This time around, the main complaints were from players who won on the site and wanted to withdraw any amount of money in the thousands of dollars. These players would be flagged for a random “security check.” They were given a dog-and-pony show about a 60-day inspection. Due to their definition of the phrase “business days,” the security checks tended to take over 4 months. Thus, anyone winning a decent amount of money would be waiting months for their winnings.

Grand Macao Casino might have been one of the more legitimate operations in the Affactive Group’s network. Grand Macao either had a lot less customers, or else it did not rob players as much with bad terms and conditions. It seldom got mentioned, while the rest of the network seemed to conduct bad business. However, this would not save Grand Macao in the end.

Federal Take-down of NetAd Management and Affactive Group

Authorities iconAll of this might have continued indefinitely had the people who operated NetAd Management, Affactive Group, Milore Ltd., and Revenue Jet not had much bigger ambitions. The anonymity of the Internet gives scam artists the ability to deceive with virtual impunity. That anonymity evaporates in certain rare instances, when the scammer steps over the line into pure criminality.

In the summer of 2014, the largest bank in the United States and the 6th-largest corporation in the world — J.P. Morgan-Chase — was the victim of a cyber-attack. Over the course of several weeks, security at the New York City firm realized their database had been compromised. The accounts of 76 million private citizens and 7 million small businesses has been compromised. Given the size of the corporation attacked, JP Morgan contacted U.S. federal law enforcement agencies and financial regulators.

Suspected Russian Espionage

The investigation was handled at the highest level. Experts believed the sophistication of the attack pointed to a state-level attack on the US financial system. Because the United States was leading a coalition of nations in imposing sanctions upon the Russian Federation for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, US intelligence analysts believed Russian state hackers had attacked the top US bank. Thus, America’s top counter-espionage units were tasked with tracking down the source of the attack.

When investigators began to study the problem further, they decided it was much more likely to have been done by private individuals for the sake of commercial gain. They tracked the attack to Moscow and were able to trace it to a set of individuals — two Americans and two Israelis — who were in Russia at the time. The hackers probably chose the location as a safe haven beyond the reach of American authorities, but Vladimir Putin’s security forces likely helped with the investigation to take heat off of themselves.

Hackers Revealed

Account hackedThe hackers proved to be Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein of Israel, alongside Anthony Murgio and Joshua Aaron of the United States. The U.S. Justice Department started to work with authorities in Israel to find and arrest these individuals. On July 23, 2015, Israeli police arrested Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein in Israel. Anthony Murgio was arrested by the FBI in Florida on the same day. The fourth indicted man, Joshua Aaron, appears to have been in Eastern Europe at the time and escaped arrested. The men were accused of the JP Morgan-Chase cyber-attack.

The U.S. State Department asked for Shalon and Orenstein to be extradited to stand trial, which the Israeli government did. Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for New York, held a press conference in which he described what happened. The cyber-attackers accessed the database of the banking institution to get access to potential investors in penny stocks. These men would buy penny stocks, pump up the value through advertising investment opportunities, and then dump their penny stocks onto the market at a huge profit.

Affactive Group Shuts Its Doors

The EndThe arrests were big news in American financial circles, but it seemed to have no impact on the gaming community — for 24 hours, at least. On July 24, 2015, representatives for Affactive Media began sending emails to affiliate marketers, telling them they were closing down operations. NetAd Management was ending operations. So was Milore Limited and Revenue Jet.

It turns out all these companies were owned by Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein. These hackers were the scam artists who had been stealing money from American gamblers since 2008 — and probably as early as 2004. The authorities seized domains and assets and the whole house of cards came toppling down.

In November 2015, Shalon, Orenstein, and Murgio appeared in court to be formally charged. As of 2016, they continue to await trial on dozens of felony charges. If convicted, they are likely to spend decades in the American prison system.