Malaysian authorities have broken up an illegal online gambling operation that bombarded potential customers with come-hither text messages.
On Wednesday, the Sun Daily reported that police in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur had arrested five individuals in connection with an illegal online casino that authorities claim was making profits of RM3.3m (US$794k) per month. The raid followed a tipoff from the public, presumably a disgruntled customer.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim told local media that the operators of this gambling ring employed a GSM SMS blasting device to send “hundreds of thousands” of text messages promoting the online casino to random phone numbers in Malaysia and China.
The Commissioner said the ring had been in operation for about a year, working out of an apartment that served as their ‘customer service department.’ The suspects were responsible for instructing customers who responded to the text messages on the details of opening an account and depositing cash.
Investigations of the computers and mobile phones seized during the raid indicated that the ring had “over 20,000″ clients from whom they reportedly received deposits of over RM120k ($28,900) per day. The ring used Chinese bank accounts for both accepting deposits and paying out winnings.
The actual gambling took place via an unspecified website, the operator of which the police are eager to apprehend. The police are also investigating how the ring obtained the phone data they used to spam potential customers.
Malaysia has never looked favorably on online gambling, and has had particular difficulty with sites that promote themselves via text messages. A couple years ago, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission embarked on a wholesale purge of mobile phone numbers linked to illegal gambling promotions.
Ironically, the SMS promotion scheme only ramped up after the Malaysian government began crowing about its success in stamping out illegal online gambling websites, proving yet again, that when puritans close a door, technology opens a window.