New Zealand Online Casino Players Being Targeted By Asian Crime Gangs

New Zealand Online Casino Players Being Targeted By Asian Crime Gangs April 11, 2023 April 11, 2023 Carolyn Dutton
 General April 11, 2023 by Carolyn Dutton

new zealandSummary:

  • Illegal online casinos linked to organized crime gangs are now targeting New Zealand customers
  • NZ Police have been asked to keep a close watch on the situation
  • These rogue online casinos are mostly based in Southeast Asia, particularly the Mekong region

New Zealand law enforcement agencies have been alerted to a growing online scam perpetrated by rogue online casinos based in Southeast Asia. These illegal casinos have links to criminal syndicates and are operating using the proceeds of crime, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Online Casino players from New Zealand have been warned to be vigilant as these scammers could target them next, though it’s highly likely some NZ players have already been victimized.

Online Casino Scams

The warning came from Jeremy Douglas, UNODC’s regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific who travelled to Wellington recently to discuss with the country’s law enforcement agencies the risks posed by these organized crime-linked online casinos. Douglas told NZ Police to closely monitor the situation as it’s a very “fast-moving, accelerating criminal landscape”.

Douglas noted that these online scams have become a global phenomenon that transcends borders. The people behind these scams are not deterred by the location of their potential victims. They will come for them, and they may have already made their way to New Zealand, Douglas warned.

The scams work by duping innocent players into entering fraudulent investment schemes involving stocks, gold, and cryptocurrency. Some of the illicit online casinos also require players to deposit money before they can play only to find out later that they can never have their money back.

Southeast Asian Online Casinos Linked to Organized Crime

According to UNODC, the online platforms operating the scams are usually based in the Mekong region, covering Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Some are also operating from the Philippines.

Organized crime groups usually run these sites and are using them as fronts for money laundering. The scheme is similar to what drug gangs had been doing at land-based casinos during the pre-COVID era where VIPs and high rollers were the prime targets. When the pandemic happened, the criminals shifted to online gambling sites, facilitating different scams which have now exploded, according to Douglas.

New Zealand residents are advised not to engage with suspicious messages or links and not to share personal or financial information with people they don’t know. They must also ignore offers that sound too good to be true.

Carolyn is our legislation expert, with a background in law she is able to cover the current state of gambling around the world