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Police smash online soccer gambling gangs

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-08 09:52
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While Chinese fans have been enjoying international soccer tournaments in recent weeks, police across the country have solved a number of online gambling cases that used events such as the ongoing Euro 2024 championship as a cover.

In Beijing, police dismantled three online gambling gangs on June 26, capturing 21 people suspected of being involved in operating casinos and confiscating many tools, including electronic devices and bank cards, believed to have been used in illegal activities, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Police in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, said on Tuesday that they had caught two people on June 27 believed to have been members of a gang involved in betting worth more than 400,000 yuan ($55,000).

They said one suspect, surnamed Liu, registered as an agent on an overseas soccer betting website, and then hired the other suspect, surnamed Song, to invite people to join a WeChat group and collect money from gamblers betting on Euro 2024.

One of the suspects has been given administrative penalties, while the other has been placed under criminal coercive measures in line with the law, but the public security department in Chengdu's Qingbaijiang district has not specified which suspect received which punishment. Further investigation of the case is underway.

According to China's Criminal Law, criminal coercive measures include detention, bail or residential surveillance.

In Dujiangyan, another city in Sichuan, police smashed another group consisting of five people who allegedly used overseas websites to organize soccer gambling during Euro 2024, which kicked off in Germany on June 14 and will conclude on Sunday.

In addition to disclosing such cases to remind soccer fans not to bet on games, police in many areas have also posted tips on social media platforms to help people be on guard against fraud involving such events.

Some scammers, for instance, were found to have created false versions of the official Euro 2024 online platform to sell fake commemorative gifts, such as coins, bank notes and mascots, or to have posted advertisements on WeChat Moments to attract fans to buy. Once the fraudsters received the money, they would block the buyers, according to Shanghai police.

Meanwhile, some fraudsters also forged and widely distributed text messages claiming to be sent by the official Euro 2024 website that told people they had won a prize and could click on a link to receive it, police in Leshan, Sichuan, said.

"If people click on the link, the scammers will ask them to pay a sum of money as taxes or service charges to a designated account, or directly implant a virus to steal personal data from the users' mobile phones," the police added.

A man in the Yinzhou district of Ningbo, Zhejiang province, called police on June 16 after being cheated during Euro 2024.

He said he had seen an advertisement on WeChat Moments offering discounts on bets during the soccer tournament. He then contacted the person and downloaded the required app, placing a bet of 10,000 yuan.

But when he won the bet and tried to withdraw the money, he found he could not, nor could he reach the person anymore.

"What the man experienced is a scam that uses high odds to get football fans to bet," Ningbo police said. "Even if people win, they cannot withdraw because when they click on the advertisement and place the bet, the fraudsters have already run away with the money."

Beijing police advised people to watch games rationally, avoid participating in soccer gambling and pay close attention to the protection of their personal information.

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