Money change gangs boost Macau gaming frauds: govt

Cheating of the public by unauthorised money changers, including ones that loiter in or near casino premises, accounted for most gaming-related fraud cases probed by Macau police in 2023, said the city’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak (pictured, centre) in an annual crime statistics press briefing on Wednesday.

An aggregate 257 gaming-related fraud cases were subject to police investigation in 2023, up 198.8 percent year-on-year, but down by 43.6 percent from the pre-pandemic trading year of 2019.

Since casino-market recovery from early last year, unauthorised money changers had become “more active”, said the security official. Among a variety of crimes stemming from such activities, fraud had been foremost, stated Mr Wong.

Frauds committed by such people against the public accounted for a total of 240 crime cases during 2023, up by 122.2 percent year-on-year, said the security chief, citing information from the city’s Judiciary Police.

Secretary Wong stated that “these frauds mostly involve the use of practice [bank-staff training] banknotes or bogus remittance” pledges, to trick people.

Fighting illicit money exchange remains a “key” task for the police, remarked Mr Wong. He added that his department would continue to work with the city’s casino operators, by strengthening police patrol activity.

Macau police have also been working with their counterparts on the Chinese mainland to probe the origin and capital flow of the illicit money exchange operations identified in Macau, Mr Wong also noted in the briefing.

Such activity had emerged in Macau “in the second half of 2018”, said the security official. He also remarked: “That was after the mainland authorities tightened the conditions for people to cash out from their [mainland-issued] UnionPay cards… and the ATMs surrounding casinos here also started to require facial recognition” for customers to withdraw their money.

Mr Wong added: “That’s how the market for it [illicit currency swap] emerged, because cash access here became more limited.”

The Macau police subsequently observed a “huge jump” in reports of illicit money exchange activities in the city. Circa “7,000” cases related to this trade were probed in 2019, Mr Wong said.

The Chinese province of Jiangxi had been identified, since 2019, as a key source of illicit money exchange traders, said Mr Wong, citing Macau-mainland investigations.

Mainland law enforcement “actually deployed” staff “in Zhuhai… so that they can work with us to send back” the illicit money traders investigated in Macau, Mr Wong noted to the press. Zhuhai, in Guangdong province, is the nearest mainland city to Macau, and a gateway for many of Macau’s visitors arriving via overland routes.

In 2023, the Macau authorities “intercepted” 11,870 illicit money exchange traders. They also liaised with the Macau gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, to ban 2,048 people linked to those activities from entering the city’s casinos.

The police lodged investigations into a total of 1,107 gaming-related cases last year. Of those cases, frauds, thefts, usury and unlawful detentions all saw decline in numbers from 2019, Mr Wong stated.

Compared with 2019, the police also observed that Macau’s gaming-related offences had shifted from the “serious” crimes of usury and unlawful detention, while thefts have become more common.

“Usury and unlawful detention cases accounted for 43.9 percent of the total [gaming-related] crimes in 2019, and it then decreased to 13.7 percent in 2023. Meanwhile, thefts and illegitimate appropriation accounted for 15.4 percent of all [gaming-related] crimes in 2019, and increased to 31.5 percent in 2023,” Mr Wong explained.

BY: 에볼루션 바카라사이트

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