Authorities in China have disrupted the local operations of a Philippines-based illegal online gambling network.
On Tuesday, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that police in the south central province of Hunan had arrested 19 individuals suspected of running an illegal online gambling ring.
The arrests follow a three-month investigation by police in Loudi City, southwest of the provincial capital of Changsha, following a tip-off from two Loudi residents who claimed to have lost money interacting with an illegal lottery website. One of the disgruntled customers claimed to have lost over RMB 80k (US $12,300) in just five days.
Police claimed the network of illegal sites operated by the gang boasted over 10k users who reportedly wagered over RMB 300m ($46.2m) on the sites since the operation launched in 2014. Police have frozen more than 200 bank accounts linked to the network, while confiscating over 100 computers and some 11 limousines (the need for which went unexplained).
Among the 19 individuals currently under arrest are the ring’s three main organizers, who police claim originally established servers and payment processing channels in Malaysia, along with over 30 affiliate companies to promote the gambling services. Police say a government crackdown in Malaysia eventually forced the operation to shift its technology to the Philippines.
It’s unclear if the customers whose complaints sparked the arrests had been cheated or if their wagers had simply been unlucky. Recent months have seen Chinese authorities crack down on a number of crooked online gambling sites based in countries like Cambodia. Some of these sties initially allowed customers to win small amounts while encouraging them to make larger deposits, after which the games would be rigged to ensure customers had no chance of winning.
The most recent example of these type of fraudulent sites involved the arrest of some 218 suspects, most of whom were reportedly from China’s Fujian province. Xinhua claimed the webmasters who were arrested this week were also from Fujian.