Police in Hanoi, Vietnam raided a black market online gambling ring that has allegedly handled as much as $2.7 billion in the last two years. A total of 16 suspects were collared in the operation, all Vietnamese nationals. They ran a multi-billion dollar online gambling ring that was masterminded by one Truong Ngoc Tu.
Tu and his employees used a gambling website and a mobile app to market their services to Vietnamese customers. Punters were asked to deposit real cash, which they would then redeem for virtual points on the app to start gambling on the move.
Agents were tasked by Tu to collect deposits and pay out winnings. Some agents even went as far as to collect collateral from some players when they were unable to pay off loans. Tu’s plan was estimated to have begun in 2018. After busting the illegal online gambling racket, Vietnamese authorities reported that it was the largest ever gambling bust in the country.
Vietnam keeps very strict limits on their gambling industry. Despite the presence of some licensed brick and mortar casinos in the country, it was only recently that locals were allowed to play alongside foreign visitors. Vietnamese authorities have eased up in previous years; in fact, legislators have now approved some forms of sports wagering.
Despite Vietnam’s insistence on constraining the local gambling industry, Vietnamese residents have continued to search for gambling options. This has incentivized black market operators to offer their services, despite the massive risks.
Elite Task Force Carried Out Raid
Tu’s black market operation was investigated by a special task force comprised of crime unit members of the Hanoi police and operatives from the Ministry of Public Security. The elite unit charged with raiding Tu’s gambling ring had previously raided other operations throughout the city.
The raid of Tu yielded 16 arrests, as well as hundreds of mobile phones, including SIM and ATM cards. Those arrested were all directly tied to Tu; most were his family and friends, with some IT consultants for customer support.
The police estimated the number of customers that played at Tu’s site to be in the millions, as evidenced by the accounts registered. More than $110 million in gambling transactions were processed every month, according to the police.
Tu earned his money from all the deposits and withdrawals made at the site, taking off a commission of 2% from each transaction. He managed to elude capture for so long by using offshore servers to confuse Vietnamese authorities.