Hanoi Police Uncovers $2.7 Billion Illegal Gambling Operation
Police in Hanoi on Thursday busted an illegal online gambling ring that was estimated to have processed more than $2.7 billion in gambling money over two years.
Police nabbed 16 suspects, all Vietnamese nationals believed to have been involved in the illicit operation, including a man called Truong Ngoc Tu who was the mastermind behind the whole scheme.
Tu and his accomplices targeted customers from around Vietnam via a gambling website and an app they could download on their mobile devices. Gamblers had to deposit cash through a network of agencies to get virtual currency/points and be able to gamble.
Hanoi police uncovered hundreds of agents across the capital of Vietnam. Punters were able to cash out their winnings from those agents or be extended loans on a losing streak by putting up personal assets as collateral.
The illegal online gambling operation was launched in 2018 and offered several different games. According to reports from local newspapers, the scheme had an extremely huge scale, with its total value estimated at more than $2.6 billion. Some news outlets even said that this was the largest illicit gambling operation of this kind to be discovered by Vietnamese police.
Most forms of gambling are prohibited in Vietnam. The country hosts land-based casinos, but up until recently only foreigners were allowed to gamble at those. Under a pilot program launched by the Vietnamese government not long ago, residents can wager at some casinos. In addition, lawmakers have also allowed limited sports betting.
A Series of Raids
The illegal gambling operation was uncovered by a special task force comprising officers from Hanoi police’s crime unit and members of the hi-tech crime department at the Ministry of Public Security.
The special unit conducted a series of raids across Hanoi. As mentioned above, 16 individuals were arrested during those raids. In addition, police seized dozens of mobile phones, SIM cards, and ATM cards.
According to the official newspaper of the Hanoi police force, millions of accounts were created with the illegal gambling website and transactions running up to $110 million were processed every month.
Tu and his accomplices would instruct punters how to deposit and withdraw their money, taking a 2% commission. To evade authorities, the mastermind behind the illicit scheme placed the website’s servers outside Vietnam. All of the arrested individuals were close friends and relatives of Tu as well as IT experts.
Even though online gambling is banned in Vietnam, it remains a lucrative sector. Police have bust a number of illegal operations worth millions and even billions of dollars over the years. The schemes were operated by both Vietnamese nationals and foreigners and also targeted both residents of Vietnam and of other countries in the region.
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