Police in Guangdong have taken 218 people into custody for being part of illegal online gambling operations. The gambling scam in question made use of major Macau based gambling operators to target customers based in China.
Gambling is illegal in China but there exists a thriving online betting industry to cater to the demand from this country. Since this industry operates in a grey area it gives rise to a large number of scams, which are unearthed at a disturbingly regular basis. However, authorities in China say that the latest internet scam has been the biggest so far. The people operating it managed to skim off a whopping CNY140 million, the equivalent of $21 million from victims numbering at least 1000 located across different parts of the country.
The authorities first got wind of the scam last year in March when they received complaints from people living in the city of Foshan which is located in the province of Guangdong. Customers of these fake gambling sites were asked to deposit money into their gaming accounts in order to begin gambling on various gaming products including live casino games. The police subsequently launched their investigations into the issue which lead to two illegal betting sites being unearthed.
According to the investigators, the illegal operations made use of the names of well-known Macau casinos to attract their victims. The casinos whose identities were stolen include the Galaxy, the Venetian Macao, and the Grand Lisboa. Interestingly, the operators of the scam sites were targeting only Chinese customers because the sites were exclusively in the Chinese language. However, the servers hosting the sites were based in Poipet, Cambodia with an aim to stay out of the reach of Chinese law enforcement.
The police operation was a massive one involving more than 1000 offices and taking place in Poipet as well as different parts of China. Arrests were made in Cambodia as well as Mainland China. Based upon the information available from investigators, some of the people detained in Poipet already had warrants against their name in China for various offences related to providing illegal betting services and transferring funds obtained illegally. As a result, at least 38 of the suspects detained during the Poipet raids were sent back to Mainland China for further investigations.
The Chinese love for gambling induces large numbers of them to travel to Macau as well as other countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. Many of these places have gambling establishments run by Chinese nationals and their clientele are predominantly from that country as well. They arrive in these countries with large amounts of cash in order to indulge in gambling and other activities that are banned in their country. In fact, these enclaves devoted to gambling are so Chinese that it is hard to hear the local language spoken there. It is clear to see that the Chinese government is willing to turn a blind eye to the gambling in these countries as long as it stays within the law.