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Eight Koreans have been arrested in Phuket for running an online gambling operation that police estimate would have had an annual turnover of more than B100 million.
Wichit Police arrested the eight men in raids on four different condo units at an apartment block near Dowroong Wittaya School yesterday (June 3).
The eight men were named as: Lee Seok Joong, 30; Joo Seung Oh, 28; Han Hong Hee, 28; Kim Young Jae, 33; Oh Se Won, 35; Lee Jung Min, 31; Moon Hyun Cheol, 34; and Lee Kang Yong, 35.
Police are still looking for the mastermind behind the gambling ring, who they believe is still in Phuket, Maj Gen Pachara Boonyasit, commander of the Phuket Provincial Police, told the press today (June 4).
During the raids, police seized 60,000 baht in cash, desktop and notebook computers, mobile phones and more than 100 other items in the rooms. They also seized 100 one-time-password devices and the bankbooks for their corresponding bank accounts.
“The gang started their illegal business about three months ago,” explained Gen Pachara. “They work for a Korean gambling website and accept only Korean members.”
The men were personal account managers for clients, he added.
“Each of them had their own members to take care of,” Gen Pachara said. “They monitored gambling results – mainly of football, basketball, baseball and volleyball matches – and at the end of each day they either transferred their takings or made payouts.”
Transactions recorded in the bank accounts seized showed that the cash turnover for the operation so far averaged about B100,000 per day, but Gen Pachara said that he did not believe that indicated the full volume of transactions handled by the group.
“We believe that the full turnover would have been more than B100 million,” he said.
The Koreans, who remained silent during the press conference today, reportedly told police that they were each paid B60,000 a month to operate the Korean-language website.
“They confessed that they chose to operate the website from inside Thailand as the punishment in Korea [for providing online gambling] is much tougher – up to five years in jail and a fine of of up to [the equivalent of] hundreds of thousands of baht,” Gen Pachara said.
In Thailand, the punishment is from three months to three years in jail or a fine of up to B60,000, or both, he noted.
Police are investigating whether the eight men arrested have any connection to the two South Korean men arrested in Bangkok yesterday, another three on Monday and seven more men on May – all for running a gambling website.
“We will also contact the South Korean embassy and provide them with details of the people who used the online gambling website, as the members [who placed bets online] all live over there,” Gen Pachara said.