Malaysia betting ring raked in $1 bn: police
KUALA LUMPUR A FOOTBALL betting and fraud ring busted in Malaysia may have raked in up to $1.3 billion, police said on Friday, after an operation that saw scores of Chinese and Taiwanese nationals arrested.
Police conducted the raid in the city of Kajang, near the capital Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday, in the latest case to indicate rampant illegal sports betting in Asia.
The apparently highly organised and well-funded ring operated for a month from several luxury bungalows in an upscale gated community “home to several ministers and former cabinet members,” The Star newspaper reported.
A preliminary examination of the ring’s records indicate it may have taken in nearly four billion ringgit ($1.3 billion) in bets and fraudulent income over that period, Kajang police chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Wahab told AFP.
Abdul Rashid updated the number of those arrested to 150 — up by a dozen from an initial figure — including five Malaysians. All the others were from China and Taiwan, and the foreigners included 58 women.
“The gambling and scam activities were carried out by the foreigners. The locales were just cooks and food delivery people. It is an international syndicate,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said the group took bets on English Premier League football games, organised other forms of online gambling, and had been communicating with criminal syndicates in Mexico.
But he added those contacts were still being investigated and he had no further information on who was behind organising such a large operation.
Abdul Rashid said the group also carried out Internet scams that sought to obtain the credit card numbers of people in China, Taiwan and Portugal.
The Star said members had detailed scripts to follow in dealing with victims.
Once investigations are complete, the foreign suspects will likely be deported rather than charged as none of their victims were in Malaysia, the police chief said.
Most of the suspects had arrived in Malaysia in early March, he added.
The bungalows had closed-circuit video systems for security and police found “suspects engrossed in their laptops and telephones in a classroom-like atmosphere with all the tables neatly arranged in rows,” The Star reported.
The New Straits Times said the ring had 241 mobile phones and 43 computers for members to use.
Football, particularly the English game, is hugely popular in Malaysia but sports betting is illegal and those found guilty can be jailed.