Illegal Philippine sportsbooks, fake Chinese kidnappings and ‘substitute criminals’

TAGs: China, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea

fake kidnappingPolice in the Philippine province of Cebu arrested five Korean nationals on Thursday on suspicion of operating an illegal online sportsbook. Acting on a tip from a Lapu-Lapu City resident that the men “seldom go outside,” the police placed the residence under surveillance, then raided the joint. Regional Police Intelligence Unit chief inspector George Yianan told the Sun-Star the five men admitted their involvement in illegal gambling but claimed they’d only been operating for a month. The men are in the Philippines on tourist visas, and police suspect they left South Korea after police in that country got wise to their activities. Yianan said most of the operation’s customers were also Korean, but that some “high-profile” Filipino bettors were among the group’s clientele.

While the Philippine police are busy arresting Koreans, there’s apparently been a kidnapping wave targeting Chinese nationals. Actually, make that a fake kidnapping wave. Anti-crime crusader Teresita Ang-See told the Inquirer that she was aware of at least four kidnappings of Chinese nationals in Pampanga last month that were staged. “These are casino players who lost a lot of gambling money. They want to get back their losses by staging their own kidnapping and asking for ransom from the relatives in China.” Well, really… Who among us hasn’t resorted to a fake kidnapping ploy to clear up a bar tab now and then? I once glued a stripper’s Lee Press-On nail to a rotting cocktail wienie, then mailed it to my folks with a ransom note saying more ‘fingers’ would follow if they didn’t pay up. Of course, I had to keep my mittens on when I visited the following Christmas, but on the plus side, my credit is once again good at Bob’s Classy Lady…

From fake kidnappings to fake confessions: a Singapore man has been sentenced to four months in jail for bribing five men to falsely claim they were the proprietors of over a dozen online gambling operations disguised as internet cafes. Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that Cheh Back Hai, 63, paid each man S$500 (US$400) a month. In exchange, the men, who were in reality painters and cleaners, signed tenancy agreements for the premises and registered themselves as the business owners. The joints were eventually raided, and the false confessions didn’t work for long. Cheh already did seven months in prison for masterminding the café operations, and the additional four months are strictly for trying to pervert the course of justice.

In China, this concept of hiring a fall guy to do the time for your crime is so pervasive, it has a name: ding zui, or ‘substitute criminal’. As recently detailed in Slate, China’s rich and powerful routinely hire body doubles to take the rap, for which they’re paid either a flat fee or a per diem. The disparity between China’s mega-rich and the desperately poor is so great that rural Chinese apparently don’t need much convincing to suffer through a few years behind bars so their families can have a better life.

Which has us wondering – how do we really know if the guy who so willingly turned himself in to US authorities last month is the real Ray Bitar? Did the DoJ do a DNA test before they released ‘Ray’ on bail? Remember that the DoJ claimed Ray still had at least $24m stashed away when he turned himself in. How much of that would it take for someone to be willing to do a few years in Club Fed? Has anyone checked Irish newspapers for a classified ad looking for a “swarthy, Dom Deluise lookalike smelling vaguely of lobster” that’s short of cash but has no real plans for the next few years?


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