Police in Macau have arrested the operator of the ‘name and shame’ website that posted the identifies of individuals who’d reportedly failed to repay gambling loans. On Wednesday, Judiciary Police charged Charlie Choi Kei Ian, the founder and operator of the ‘Wonderful World’ website, with breaching data protection laws. If convicted, Choi faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of MOP 1.2m (US $150k).
The Wonderful World website debuted last summer, featuring names and photos of around 500 alleged deadbeat gamblers from various counries, along with the amounts they owed and personal details including phone numbers, plus colorfully pejorative adjectives like ‘rogue’ or ‘robber.’ The site also offered ‘bounties’ to anyone whose actions led to the repayment of any of the listed individuals’ debts.
In August, Choi told the Macau Daily Times his motivation for launching the site was that he himself was the victim of debtors. Choi also claimed not to be bothered by any potential legal issues as the people who’d provided him with the info had promised to bear the brunt of any consequences. A police spokesperson told Macau Business Daily that the authorities were still in the dark as to whether the individuals listed on the site incurred their debts via Macau’s junket operators.
Gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland, meaning the courts refuse to enforce gambling debts. In August, Choi bragged that his site had allowed creditors to collect many of the outstanding debts but denied that his site received any commission from said collections. The site is believed to have resulted in the collection of MOP 200m (US $25m) of the total MOP 2b owed by the individuals featured on the site.
Despite Choi’s arrest and police orders to scrub the debtors’ personal info from the web, the Singapore-based website is still viewable online at 99world.com. Choi has been described as uncooperative following his detention, leading police to slap him with a further charge of ‘disobedience.’ The police indicated that further charges may be laid against those who provided Choi with the debtors’ personal details.