Thai Police Arrest 19 Suspects in an Online Gambling App Crackdown
Thai Police have arrested 19 suspected individuals in an effort to crackdown on illegal online gambling operations. The effort has been dubbed the ‘Shadow App Operation’, a group of detectives and police officers tasked with bringing down numerous suspected criminal organizations connected to online gambling outfits. This article will dive into the police operation and how these arrests are important in putting a stop to illegal online gambling setups.
Seven provinces of Thailand were targeted during this operation, with three still yet to be dismissed. The National Police chief Suwat Jangyodsvisit, who recently defended the aggressive actions against protestors, one of whom was a medical volunteer, hosted an important press conference on Wednesday (Feb 24th) following the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau’s crackdown. Here, the media asked several important questions and swiftly relayed this information to the Thai population. It has now become a big news story in Thailand’s capitol, Bangkok.
The police tracked down a total of 22 suspects; after months of investigative/field research, they were able to nail three individuals in Bangkok while the rest were scattered around the country. The largest concentration of suspects was centered in Pathum Thani, a district just north of the Thai capitol. Pathum Thani, although small, is known for its high levels of gang activity, resulting in a large police presence in the area.
The Online Gambling App under investigation is called ‘Royal Slot 777; it was developed in Thailand and has been available in the App and Google Play stores since early 2019. Police began to investigate suspicious activity connected to the application after the founding company opened 133 bank accounts in a very short time span.
These accounts are suspected of having held up to $480,000 per month, spread out not to draw attention to their operation. It would prove to be unsuccessful, however, as the authorities were quick to catch on. The Shadow App Operation has seen huge success recently, responsible for cracking several difficult cases, resulting in numerous important arrests.
How Were They Caught?
After the arrests were made, officers managed to confiscate several important items as evidence from the suspects. Some of this included fake passports, brand new sports cars, illegal firearms and 54 mobile phones. All this has was compiled together, strengthening the case’s resolve and turning a dream of conviction into reality.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects had set up over ten different companies, all owned by an unnamed Chinese national. Established over a year ago, many of these companies are suspected of being money laundering fronts. The Chinese nationals involvement has drawn interest from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS). It is unknown whether Thai Police have chosen to cooperate with the Chinese secret service at this time. With this in mind, extradition is a very strong possibility.
This case’s heart is the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau who discovered the initial red flags, alerting local authorities to the potential criminal activity. Their cooperation with Thai Police has once again proven to be extremely beneficial, providing them with an added framework enabling them to conduct their own cyber investigations.
The police chief Suwat Jangyodsvisit went onto congratulate the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, stating, “This healthy partnership opens up many opportunities for us to investigate further into cybercrime, we can learn from them and them from us”. He went onto say that the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau would work alongside the Money Laundering Office to investigate companies for possible involvement in an international money laundering operation.
Thailand Gambling Laws
Nearly all forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, except the national lottery and racetrack betting. Despite this, gambling is a huge industry in Thailand. Almost 60% of Thai nationals engage in gambling, and a 2014 survey found that over $43 billion was wagered on the FIFA World Cup alone. Many of these bets are made using unregulated traders, who make up most of the betting companies in Thailand. Either way, Thailand betting is gaining popularity.
Thailand has become a popular destination for poker pros who have been banned from playing in their own countries. Players from the US and mainland Europe have relocated to the country because of its lack of proper regulation over local and online gambling. If you wish to partake in online gambling from Thailand, the only way is to use off-shore websites hosted around Asia and Europe.