Police in Hanoi, Vietnam busted an illegal online gambling ring late last week, with an estimated $2.7 billion in gambling money moved through the ring in just over two years. Police were able to arrest 16 individuals during a raid, including Truong Ngoc Tu, the man considered to be the leader of the operation.
The individuals targeted people from Vietnam with their online gambling website and application. Players could use a mobile device to get started gambling, by simply depositing cash via agencies that offer virtual currency and/or points for gambling.
Police were able to find hundreds of agents located in Hanoi. Players were able to access the agents to receive their prize from a winning bet. They also used the agents to extend loans when they were on a losing streak. Loans were taken out by players who used personal assets as a form of collateral.
The illegal operation reportedly began in 2018 and offered players several games to choose from. At one point, the total value of the scheme was set at over $2.6 billion.
In Vietnam, most forms of gambling are illegal. The operation was able to see success for quite some time due to players wanting to have access to gambling options. The country does provide land-based casinos but it was just recently that residents were allowed to begin wagering.
In the past, only foreigners were allowed to gamble at the casinos. A pilot program was recently released in the county that allows residents to play at select casinos. Lawmakers have also decided to allow sports betting, but on a limited basis.
A special task force was used during this recent raid, comprised of officers from the crime unit and high-tech crime department. The unit has completed several raids in Hanoi. During this raid that included the 16 arrests, police also seized ATM cards, SIM cards and mobile phones.