GEORGE TOWN: Penang police crippled an online gambling syndicate that had been raking in profits up to RM240,000 a day from its Indonesian market after raiding four premises used as call centres in Sungai Ara and Bayan Lepas, near here.
State police chief Datuk T. Narenasagaran said the raids were conducted between 10pm on Friday and noon on Saturday at four luxury condominiums, in which 16 Indonesians aged between 19 and 47, including five women, were detained.
“One of them, a 40-year-old man, is the mastermind of the syndicate, and checks revealed that they used the condominium units as centralised call centres for gambling activities,” he told a press conference here.
He said those detained include operators or assistants at the call centres who worked on 12-hour shifts daily.
Initial investigations found that the suspects were aware they were being recruited to operate online gambling activities, and came over willingly for the lucrative salaries.
Narenasagaran said the syndicate serviced customers in Indonesia, with a special website used to operate the gambling activities using software purchased from Cambodia.
“This syndicate has been operating round the clock from the rented condominiums for less than a year and offered bets starting from 1,000 rupiahs (29 sen) to 20 million rupiahs (about RM5,850),” he said.
Each of the four premises could rake in profits up to RM60,000 per day, Narenasagaran said.
The employees in these call centres also help promote the online gambling activities by sending random text messages via SMS, WhatsApp and WeChat applications to customers in Indonesia.
“The central service centre, meanwhile, serves to manage the inflow and outflow of online money transactions for the gambling activities, using Indonesian financial institutions.
“Among the gambling services offered were poker, international league football, 4D lottery (in and out of Indonesia) and others,” he said.
He said police seized 26 computers, 29 mobile phones, 27 online banking tokens and a laptop from the premises.
“Many of those detained were found to have violated immigration laws, including for overstaying, not having working permits and abuse of their social visit passes. They were remanded under Section 4(1)(c) of the Betting Act 1953 and Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act 1960,” he said. — Bernama