Police arrest operator of Cambodia-based online site
By Kim Rahn
Officers from the National Police Agency’s Cyber Terror Response Center said Thursday they had busted a ring operating an illegal online gambling website that raked in some 1 trillion won ($897 million) from Koreans over three years.
The center said it had arrested one suspect, a 30-year-old surnamed Lee, on charges of operating an illegal gambling site overseas.
He allegedly operated an online casino with dozens of accomplices since 2009 while also offering some arcade games, including Sea Story.
Police took Lee into custody while raiding an office in Cambodia in cooperation with police from the Southeast Asian country last month. They are still looking for the other suspects.
Based in Cambodia, members of the group were in charge of different areas such as computer system management, program development, general affairs and a call center operation.
“Most of them were IT experts who graduated from prestigious colleges here, and some of them had been engaged in the online game industry before joining the team,” a police officer from the Cyber Terror Response Center said.
The suspects used a server in another country and collected money from gamers through thousands of borrowed-name bank accounts.
Each gambler paid at least 30,000 won via the website. Police suspect the money earned reached 1 trillion won, with about 100 people losing more than 1 billion won each.
“We haven’t arrested the key operator of the site and don’t know the exact number of suspects yet. We need to investigate further,” the officer said.
On Tuesday, operators of another gambling site were caught in Busan.
Police in the southern port city said they arrested a 46-year-old man, surnamed Kwak, on suspicions of operating an illegal sports betting site and making 1.7 billion won in illegal gains.
They booked another 16 people without detention for colluding with Kwak, including site developers and middlemen who sold borrowed-name bank accounts.
Kwak invited the accomplices, whom he met while playing computer games about 10 years ago, and operated the site with them for the last 30 months.
They used a server in Japan and set up offices in Korea and the Philippines. They developed a mobile gambling program, so that users could bet with their smartphones.
Some 3,150 people played games on the site, betting 25 billion won. Police booked 57 of them who habitually gambled large amounts of money.
경찰청 사이버테러대응센터는 한국인들을 상대로 불법 도박 사이트를 운영해 3년간 1조원을 챙긴 일당을 적발했다고 밝혔다.
경찰은 불법 도박 사이트 운영 혐의로 30살 이 모 씨를 구속했다. 이씨는 2009년부터 수십명의 공범과 온라인 카지노를 열고 바다이야기 등의 도박 게임을 운영한 혐의를 받고 있다.
경찰은 지난달 캄보디아에 있는 이들 사무실을 현지 경찰의 도움으로 압수수색하는 과정에서 이씨를 붙잡았고 나머지 공범들을 추적중이다. 캄보디아에 근거지를 둔 이들은 각각 컴퓨터 시스템 운영, 게임 개발, 총무, 콜센터 운영 등 조직적으로 움직였다고 경찰은 밝혔다.
경찰청 관계자는 “대부분은 유명 대학을 졸업한 IT 전문가들로, 온라인 게임업체들에 근무한 경력들이 있었다”고 밝혔다.
이들은 제 3국에 서버를 두고 대포통장을 통해 게임비를 입금받았다. 이용자들은 도박을 하기 위해 최소 3만원을 입금했고, 10억 이상을 잃은 사람도 100여명에 이르는 등, 경찰은 이들이 약 1조원 가량을 벌어들였다고 추산하고 있다.
이 관계자는 “아직 운영 총책 등을 검거하지 못해서 피의자가 정확히 몇 명인지 아직 파악하지 못한 상태이다. 추가 조사가 필요하다”고 말했다.