10 arrested in online gambling ring busted in Vietnam

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Ten people have been taken into custody for their alleged involvement in an online gambling ring based overseas, which handled bets totaling tens of millions of dollars, a source told Thanh Nien.

Six of the suspects, including Cu Thi Thanh Hai, vice director of telecommunications agent News Plus, and her younger brother, famous photographer Cu Huy Giap, are being investigated on charges of organizing gambling activities, according to the source.

The rest are facing charges of gambling, it said.

Police are also hunting for Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, director of News Plus, who remains at large.

The ring was busted on January 15 and 16 with its members arrested in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.

Initial information was that the ring was founded in late 2010 when several administrators of an online gambling website www.m88.com, reportedly registered in the Philippines, contacted Tram and adked her to work as their "agent."

Tram was supposed to open a bank account to receive money transferred by gamblers as bets. She would transfer the money overseas, if gamblers lost, and send it back to gamblers, if they won.

Later Tram asked Hai to join her and together they used 25 ID cards, including those of News Plus employees, to open numerous bank accounts.

Giap also opened a total of ten accounts under his name and his girlfriend's, according to the source, adding that four others who are facing charges of holding gambling games also acted as "agents" for the M88 website.

Each was paid US$1,000-2,000 per month for each account they managed.

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Hai and Tram are alleged to have earned up to tens of thousands of dollars by working for the website.

Earlier Colonel Ho Sy Tien, director of the Ministry of Public Security's social crimes investigation department, told Thanh Nien that the ring's transactions were worth up to tens of millions of dollars.

Since the money was transferred overseas, Vietnam's economy suffered "big losses" as a result, he said.

Police are investigating.

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