China busts online gambling fraudsters that used Macau casino trademarks

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Chinese authorities have revealed that their recent cross-border busts in Cambodia helped take down a ring of online gambling sites infringing on Macau casino trademarks.

On Wednesday, Chinese media reported that police in Guangdong province had detained 218 suspects for their involvement in a wide-ranging online gambling operation that allegedly netted the suspects RMB 140m (US $21.5m) from over 1,000 customers on the Chinese mainland.

The gambling sites’ servers were based in Poipet, Cambodia, where local police cooperated with Chinese authorities in the arrests earlier this month of dozens of Chinese nationals accused of running an online extortion scam from hotel rooms at the Golden Crown Casino.

Most of the 218 suspects – including 38 deported from Cambodia – were said to be from Fujian province and were wanted in connection with illegal gambling sites and the online transfer of money obtained via fraudulent means.

The investigation began in March 2015 after police in the city of Foshan, Guangdong received public complaints. Customers of the Poipet-based sites were reportedly approached via promotional text messages using the well known Macau casino brands.

The gambling sites offered a mix of digital and live dealer casino games, and customers reported earning small wins initially, which were followed by quick and easy withdrawals when requested along with inducements to deposit more money and keep playing.

Once a customer had deposited a larger sum, the games were reportedly rigged so that the customer would lose everything, after which the sites would cease all communication with the customer.

Some of the ring’s gambling sites used trademarks associated with Macau casino operators, including Grand Lisboa, Galaxy and Venetian Macao. Las Vegas Sands has previously filed legal proceedings agaisnt similar sites and Galaxy Entertainment Group while both SJM Holdings have repeatedly warned the public that their businesses have no involvement with any online gambling sites.

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