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04 August 2015

Illegal online gambling in Asia targeted in INTERPOL operation

BANGKOK, Thailand – An INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting illegal online gambling and financial fraud in Asia led to the arrest of some 48 individuals and the seizure of computers and other electronic evidence.

As part of Operation Aces, which involved Cambodia, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, police in Thailand arrested 28 individuals of Chinese, Korean and Thai nationality accused of operating multiple illegal gambling offices handling more than USD 10 million. Six additional individuals were arrested in Cambodia.

Thai police also discovered two call centre-type operations running scams targeting victims in Korea. The suspects would trick the victims into disclosing their bank account information then withdraw money from the accounts, stealing an estimated USD 200,000. Some 14 people were arrested in connection with these operations.

The operation, which ran from 15 June to 31 July was coordinated by the INTERPOL Liaison Office in Bangkok supported by INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes unit and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Bangkok.

Some 100 piece of evidence including computers, USB keys and mobile telephones were seized during raids at the various locations and will be analysed for digital forensic evidence.

“Illegal online gambling and fraud are very serious crimes in Korea, and the positive results of Operation Aces highlight how we can fight these crimes and the criminal networks involved by combining our efforts with the support of INTERPOL,” said Chief of Foreign Affairs Investigation Division of NCB Seoul, Gwak Jeong Gi.

Operation Aces was held under the auspices of an ongoing INTERPOL project to provide a regional platform to share information and intelligence to more effectively combat the growing threats of organized crime involvement in illegal gambling in the Asia-South Pacific region.
 
A working group meeting held in advance of the operation brought together some 30 investigators from seven countries – Cambodia, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – to exchange intelligence related to ongoing transnational illegal gambling investigations.

“In order to effectively combat these types of transnational crimes, countries must actively cooperate through INTERPOL channels to share critical intelligence and participate in operations such as Operation Aces which act on that intelligence,” said Lt. Col. Deputy Superintendent of the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division, Torsak Sukvimol.

During a previous Operation Aces in 2014, four Korean nationals who were high-level members of a criminal network suspected of facilitating illegal gambling activities worth more than USD 55 million were arrested in Thailand.