Online gambling syndicate busted; 33 suspects nabbed

An array of computers, mobile phones, fax machines and cash amounting to about $1.3 million were seized as case exhibits during the operation, along with other documents such as betting records.
An array of computers, mobile phones, fax machines and cash amounting to about $1.3 million were seized as case exhibits during the operation, along with other documents such as betting records.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

The suspects of a gambling syndicate here had 36 properties with an estimated value of about $39 million and $6.5 million in bank accounts, police said.

More than 30 suspects involved in illegal remote gambling services were arrested on Sunday, following one of the largest police operations against a criminal syndicate.

The 24 men and nine women, aged between 24 and 69, were arrested after officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Police Intelligence Department conducted simultaneous raids islandwide, police said in a media release yesterday.

The raids occurred at more than 30 locations, from Choa Chu Kang to Tampines. About $1.3 million in cash and an array of computers, mobile phones, fax machines and documents, such as betting records, were seized during the operation.

The police have also initiated the freezing of the suspects' bank accounts and properties.

The syndicate is believed to have been operating several illegal online betting websites for lottery and horse racing, according to preliminary investigations by the police.

The group had networks of agents and punters betting through the syndicate's websites.

It also had members who facilitated its activities through performing network support, collecting monies or tallying accounts for the syndicate.

The suspects are believed to have received bets amounting to more than $2 million in the past month.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Investigations and Intelligence) and director of the CID Tan Chye Hee said it was the police's first major operation against an organised criminal group since the Organised Crime Act was enacted. The Act was passed in Parliament last year and took effect in June.

"Organised criminal groups are involved in serious criminal activities, such as unlawful remote gambling, and can pose a serious threat to Singapore's safety and security," he said. "We will spare no efforts to disrupt and dismantle these organised criminal groups and deprive them of their ill-gotten gains."

Anyone found guilty of being a member of a locally linked organised criminal group can be fined up to $100,000, jailed up to five years or both.

If found guilty of operating a Singapore-based remote gambling service, he or she can be fined between $20,000 and $500,000, jailed up to seven years, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Online gambling syndicate busted; 33 suspects nabbed'. Print Edition | Subscribe