Police nab core figure in raid on betting website
Police yesterday arrested a man they believe to be the core figure of an illegal bookmaking syndicate that took soccer betting orders totalling more than HK$10 million from local punters in the past six months.
Preliminary investigations found the syndicate set up a website that it used to accept bets from gamblers, police said. The website was registered outside of Hong Kong.
'The syndicate opened accounts with the website for its clients,' a police officer involved in the investigation said. 'Each customer was given their own user name and password to go online and place bets.
'To elude our detection, the core figure visited the punters to collect payments, which might be settled once a week. The syndicate only accepted bets from regular clients and referrals.'
The officer said that if payments were made through bank accounts, such transactions could raise suspicions and draw police attention.
The website provided a variety of betting methods and odds, and gamblers could bet on different soccer games, police said.
'The main attraction to gamblers was that punters could bet on credit. Discounts were also offered to attract clients,' the officer said.
He believed the syndicate had been in operation for about one year.
The gang was one of the illegal bookmaking syndicates that had ditched their old methods of phone calls and betting slips, setting up gambling websites overseas to accept bets from local punters. Internet transactions are legal overseas.
Detectives from the New Territories North anti-triad unit began to investigate the syndicate after receiving a tip-off about a month ago.
Yesterday, a team of officers laid an ambush outside a three-storey village house in Ma Sim Pai Road, Tsuen Wan, at 7am. When a 32-year-old man left the house at about 11am, they intercepted and arrested him. He was taken back to his first-floor flat, where officers seized a computer and computer printouts.
'The printouts listed the details of some accounts of the clients. Initial examination showed that there were betting orders totalling more than HK$10 million in the past six months,' another officer said.
'We believe the man is the core figure of the syndicate and probably knows the owner of the gambling website.'
The man was suspected to be a member of the Sun Yee On triad society and officers were investigating whether the syndicate was controlled by the Sun Yee On.
The officer said computer experts from the commercial crime bureau would help check the seized computer to see how many punters placed bets through the gang and how many betting orders had been collected.
The arrested man was being detained at Tai Po police station for questioning last night and no charge had been laid.
Out of pocket
The value of betting slips seized in the raid, in HK dollars, was more than: $10m