Crime & Courts

Police smash online gambling call centre syndicates, 13 people detained

GEORGE TOWN: Penang police smashed two online gambling call centre syndicates with the arrest of 13 people in two separate raids here yesterday.

Both syndicates are able to rake in a profit of about RM2.5 million a month.

State police chief Datuk Khaw Kok Chin said the raids took place at a high-end condominium in Queensbay, Bayan Baru, and a business premise in Jelutong here, both of which were utilised as online gambling promotion centres and call centres, targeting customers from Australia, Bangladesh and Malaysians.

He said police also arrested 13 people in total, working for the syndicate. They comprised eight men and five women, all Malaysians, aged 21 to 33.

He added, in the first operation at about 10.45am yesterday, police raided the business premise in Jelutong, suspected of being used as a promotion centre for an online gambling syndicate.

"At this premise, police arrested nine individuals, four men and five women, aged 23 to 32, who were promoting various online gambling games to customers.

"One of them, a 32-year-old woman, is suspected of being the main mastermind of this syndicate, where she is suspected of recruiting workers to promote online gambling activities to customers," he told a press conference at the state police contingent headquarters here today.

According to Khaw, the syndicate targets customers from abroad, including Australia and Bangladesh, and also Malaysians.

He said it was difficult for customers from abroad to report the matter.

"The syndicate's modus operandi is that they use applications such as WeChat and Facebook to promote their activities.

"Investigation revealed that the premise had been in operation for a year and was able to generate a profit of up to RM1 million per month.

"All those arrested have no criminal records and tested negative for drugs," he said, adding that they worked full-time with a salary of RM2,000 to RM6,000 in the premise, which was rented for RM7,000 a month.

Meanwhile, Khaw said, in the second raid about 1.30pm at the condominium in Queensbay, four men, aged 21 to 33, were arrested on suspicion of operating the online gambling call centre.

"This syndicate is able to make a profit of RM1.5 million a month and they use applications such as WeChat to promote various gambling games using computers and mobile phones.

"This syndicate targets gambling customers in Australia and the workers of this syndicate earn up to RM5,000 a month where they work full time there.

"They rent the condominium for RM5,000 a month and have been active for the past five months. Police believe there is another individual who is the mastermind of this syndicate," he added.

Khaw said, in the two raids, police confiscated various computer equipment, 32 mobile phones, internet modems, notebooks, closed circuit cameras (CCTV) and nine cars, all of which are worth more than RM700,000.

"All 13 individuals arrested are now remanded to assist in investigation.

"The case is being investigated under Section 4(1)(c) and 4(1)(g) of the Open Gambling House Act 1953, which is managing and promoting gambling activities," he said.

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