Posted on: August 11, 2022, 07:44h. 

Last updated on: August 11, 2022, 11:44h.

Police in South Korea’s South Chungcheong Province dismantled an elaborate online gambling ring this week, according to the Yonhap News Agency. They initially took into custody 17 people as a result, but ultimately only arrested 11.

The group allegedly had been operating since 2018, catering to foreign nationals in the country who knew where to find it. During that time, the gang amassed around SKW120 billion (US$92.12 million).

South Korea Police patrol car

A South Korea police car on patrol in Seoul. Efforts are underway by the police to stop a rise in illegal gambling operations, including one law enforcement just dismantled. (Image: Pinterest)

Hidden in Plain Sight

South Korea has plenty of legal gambling options for foreigners. However, visiting an illegal gambling venue, especially if it’s online, is simple and keeps all the cash off the records. The criminal gang took advantage of this, creating an organized scheme to survive and stay off the radar as it managed four different sites.

The group set up offices around the province and in other areas in South Korea. There, they managed the operations and worked diligently to control who could access the gambling site.

As many as 7,300 people worked for the company at the different offices. They were responsible for paying out winnings, offering money exchange services, and more. Every now and then, the group shut down the office and relocated the operations in order to avoid detection.

It worked for a while, but the police finally caught up with them. The head of the group is allegedly someone from Thailand living in the country legally. When the police moved in, they seized cell phones that the group used for mobile banking, computers, jewelry and cash. All of it, they said, could prove the existence of the illegal gambling operations.

Police determined that South Koreans nationals had also received high compensation for assisting the group. They received money for managing site memberships, provisioning accounts for overseas remittance of gambling funds, topping off cash cards, and making currency exchanges.

More Arrests Possible

These organizations have reportedly exploited South Korean laws. Foreign nationals in the country are unable to file formal complaints because they can be forcibly removed from the country. Therefore, the criminal groups attract foreign workers, international students and others into gambling illegally by saying that they can make large sums of money through overseas messengers.

Kim Kwang-su, the director of cybercrime investigation at the Chonbuk National Police Agency, explained that the recently-busted gang used 26 gambling accounts in just the last six months). He added that, through intelligence-gathering efforts, investigators identified some of the sites they were using.

Then, in conjunction with different law enforcement divisions, they raided the different locations one at a time. Among these were the operator’s residence and workshop.

He added that the gangs have been operating continuously in the country for years. As such, the actual amount of gambling taking place is likely much greater than the police have uncovered. Thanks to the intelligence investigators gathered in the course of the investigation, others are likely to receive a visit from the police.