Police raided an illegal online gambling ring in Hanoi on Thursday that was reported to have handled 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 illegal operation including a man named Truong Ngoc Tu who was the mastermind behind the whole scheme.
Using a gambling website and an app they could access on their mobile devices, Tu and his accomplices targeted clients from around Vietnam. Gamblers had to deposit cash to get virtual currency / points across a network of agencies to be able to play.
Hanoi police have discovered hundreds of agents around Vietnam ‘s capital. Punters were able to cash out their winnings from those brokers or extend loans on a losing streak by putting up as collateral personal belongings.
The process of illicit online gaming was introduced in 2018, and provided many different games. The plan had an incredibly large size, with its overall valuation valued at more than $2.6 billion, according to local newspaper accounts. Some news media have said it was the largest such illegal gambling operation to be uncovered by Vietnamese authorities.
In Vietnam most forms of gambling are prohibited. The country hosts land-based casinos but only foreigners were permitted to play at them until recently. Residents can wager at some casinos under a pilot programme not long ago launched by the Vietnamese government. Furthermore, legislators have also approved restricted sports betting.
The illicit gambling activity was discovered by a special task force that included officers from the crime unit of Hanoi police and members of the Ministry of Public Security’s Hi-tech crime department.
The elite unit was carrying out a number of operations in Hanoi. Sixteen people have been arrested during those arrests, as mentioned above. In addition, there were hundreds of cell phones, SIM cards and ATM cards confiscated by police.
According to the Hanoi police force ‘s official newspaper, millions of accounts were established with the illegal gambling website, and up to $110 million in transactions were processed each month.
Tu and his accomplices would instruct punters to deposit and withdraw their money, taking a commission of 2 percent. The mastermind behind the illegal scheme installed servers of the website outside of Vietnam to circumvent authorities. All the individuals detained were Tu ‘s close friends and family, as well as IT experts.
While Vietnam bans online gambling, it remains a lucrative market. Over the years, police have uncovered a variety of millions and even billions of dollars worth of criminal operations. The schemes were operated by both Vietnamese nationals and foreigners, and targeted both Vietnamese and other regional residents.