Police cripple online gambling ring involving RM87 mln

JOHOR BAHRU: The police have crippled an online gambling syndicate targeting South Koreans and involving bets totalling RM87 million, following raids at two bungalows in Iskandar Puteri two days ago (June 5).

Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pithcay said nine South Korean men and a local man aged between 29 and 66 were arrested in the raids at 5pm on June 5.

He said the foreigners involved were believed to be working as ‘customer service’ staff who took care of the online gambling operations and worked in two shifts a day, while the local man acted as a runner and looked after the welfare of the staff, including providing food and shelter.

According to Ayob, the syndicate which has been operating for the past two years made Malaysia its centre of operations, and targeted customers from South Korea using eight online gambling platforms.

“Preliminary investigations found that the syndicate was cheating about 1,500 victims a month involving total daily bet values of at least RM1 million,” he told reporters at a press conference here today (June 7).

“If we look at the data we recorded through a laptop that was confiscated, so far, the total bet value involves RM87 million. All financial transactions are directly deposited into a central bank account in South Korea,” he said.

Ayob Khan said this was the first time South Koreans were arrested in connection to gambling activities in Johor, and the investigation found that two of the arrested individuals entered Malaysia in December 2019, while the rest in February last year.

He said among the factors believed to have led the syndicate to operate from Malaysia were the low operating costs, good internet network and security control, while they changed locations every three to six months to avoid being detected by the authorities.

Also seized in the two raids were six sets of computers, four laptops, 13 mobile phones, eight ATM cards, four iPads, as well as RM36,168 and 7,779.00 South Korean won (RM29).

The local involved was also found to have a criminal record under Section 39 (A) (1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and he was remanded for three days from yesterday (June 6), while all the foreigners involved were remanded for 14 days.

Meanwhile, commenting on the ‘Nicky Gang’ case, Ayob Khan said the police were waiting for several bank reports including from Bank Negara with regard to investigations into the organised crime group.

“This case is huge and the transactions involve a lot of personal accounts, companies and so on, so it will take some time,” he said.

When asked if the police had obtained any leads on Nicky’s whereabouts from the International Police (Interpol), Ayob Khan said no new information had been received so far.

On April 20, the International Police (Interpol) reportedly issued a ‘red notice’ for businessman Nicky Liow Soon Hee, believed to be the mastermind of the ‘Nicky Gang’ syndicate and a day later, another was issued for his aide, Niu Zhe, 31, who is a citizen of China. – Bernama