Asian crime blotter: online gambling busts in China, South Korea, Vietnam

TAGs: 188Bet, China, guangdong, hong kong, South Korea, Vietnam

china-south-korea-vietnam-188bet-gambling-bustsAn online gambling operation in China’s Guangdong province was broken up late last month, resulting in the arrests of 21 individuals and the seizure of bank accounts containing RMB 11.3m (US $1.85m) in gambling funds. China Daily quoted local law enforcement director Zheng Zehui saying the gang – whose members hailed from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore – used an online site based in the Philippines to process their wagers. The gang also operated land-based gambling dens in the Zhuhai special economic zone bordering Macau. Zheng said Guangdong has become something of a hub for these types of outfits.

Another recent police action in neighboring Hong Kong resulted in the arrest of nine individuals accused of running a betting operation out of an industrial building in Kwai Chung. The Hong Kong Standard quoted police saying the gang had been in operation for at least six months, during which time it handled HKD 43m ($5.5m) in wagers. Some members of the gang were reportedly authorized to accept wagers ranging from HKD 200k to HKD 500k ($26k to $64.5k), while a few ‘core’ members had the discretion to accept individual bets of up to HKD 4m ($515k).

Moving to South Korea, police arrested six individuals accused of running an online gambling operation in Bucheon that processed a hefty KRW 197b ($185.5m) of wagers between May 2010 and March 2013. The Yonhap news agency quoted Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency officials saying the gang’s website utilized servers based in the Philippines and China, and served an estimated 200 to 300 punters who logged onto the site every day via computers in ‘PC Bangs’ – internet cafes offering access to online multiplayer games like StarCraft – located across the country. Police say the gang employed some 122 other members to keep these local hubs going, while charging a 14.5% commission on each wager.

In mid-October, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested seven individuals for their connection to an online gambling ring linked to 188bet, the Asian-facing site that acts as the official international betting partner for UK Premier League clubs Manchester City and Liverpool. Police said the gang had been operating since 2010 and had processed VND 500b ($23.8m) in wagers, with most of the individuals posing as employees of telecom equipment companies. An official from the Ministry of Public Security referred to 188bet as the online gambling website of choice for Vietnamese gamblers.

Finally, evidence of karma was on display in Vietnam’s Dak Nong province, where an attempt to scam some gamblers resulted in deadly consequences for one of the scammers. Two men who ran a gambling den decided to boost their proceeds by engaging in some digital chicanery to influence the outcome of the wagering in their favour. The scheme was simple: a meter-deep hole was dug, into which 24-year-old Bi Van Trung climbed, along with some remote control devices. Wooden boards were used to cover up the hole, over which that evening’s gambling was to take place. Problem is, the conniving duo were a little too diligent in ensuring their plot wouldn’t be discovered, leaving insufficient spaces between the boards to ensure proper ventilation, resulting in Trung’s death by asphyxiation. Crime doesn’t pay, kids.


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