Law Enforcement in Vietnam Crackdown on Illegal Crypto Gambling Ring

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Police in Vietnam are investigating a case involving the theft of ETH, USDT, and TRON from gambler’s wallets by four Vietnamese individuals running an online gambling operation, which is illegal in the communist nation.

Embattled police in Vietnam have apprehended 59 individuals, believed to be part of a gambling ring in Ho Chi Minh City, that stole over $3.8B in bets. According to Vietnamese law enforcement, comprising of Vietnam’s Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention and Control Department, the Criminal Police Department, and the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department, the ring was allegedly masterminded by four Vietnamese citizens, named Huỳnh Long Bạch, Huỳnh Long Nhu, Phạm Thị Mai Ngân, and Nguyễn Đắc Quý.

The gamblers were duped into signing up for a crypto wallet on the foreign platform Remitano, and loading it with ETH, TRON, or USDT. They were then used to place bets on Swiftonline.live and Nagaclubs.com. These were intermediary sites to the main platform Evolution Gaming, a subsidiary of Evolution AB in Sweden. Those arrested conceded that they received commissions from Evolution for bringing Vietnamese clients onboard. Evolution has denied that its live remote tables can be accessed in jurisdictions where gambling is illegal.

The criminals crashed the site during periods of increased activity and raided gamblers’ crypto wallets. Gamblers were lured into this scheme by the criminals, who posted pictures depicting their own affluence on social media. They also lured more savvy gamblers by offering insurance, promising a refund following six consecutive losing bets. The police have put together a team to investigate the case further.

Police In Vietnam Face An Uphill Battle To Apprehend Gamblers

The police have been fighting an uphill battle to combat illegal gambling in Vietnam. The government has allowed the locals and foreigners visiting Vietnam to bet in six brick-and-mortar casinos but prohibits online gambling and private card rooms. Sports betting was made legalized in Vietnam in 2017 under a five-year pilot program, after locals were permitted to gamble in certain casinos.

 In late Nov., 2021, South Korean police apprehended 130 members of a crime ring operating an illegal gambling website from the Philippines and confiscated criminal proceeds worth 800 million won, which was transferred to South Korea in the form of cryptocurrencies.

Do Regulators Have a Point?

This incident gives credence to regulators’ calls for regulation globally. Moving money across borders anonymously using crypto is a big risk in the eyes of regulators. Know-Your-Customer and anti-money laundering policies are important when trying to track the flow of money in a transaction. Companies like Elliptic and Chainalysis have developed tools to help law enforcement track which wallets belong to which criminal groups.

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