The internet has been a marvellous invention for everybody. It has permitted people to make new friends and get in touch with old friends. It has revolutionised how we do business, shop, bank and play games. For the gambling industry, it has been a boon, with new websites like Slots Magic gaining rapid popularity daily. However, the massive growth of online casinos has one downside in the growth of online casino criminals. The opportunity to gamble has gone hand in hand with the opportunities for online crime.
Organised Crime and Gambling
Legal gambling is strictly regulated in the countries where it is permitted. The USA is one of those countries with strict regulations. In December 2015, the US Department of Justice released a report into the state of online illegal gambling. The US government has strong evidence to support that online casino crime does not exist in a bubble, but that it is part of the underworld of organised crime. Internet gambling has permitted organised criminals easier and more diverse methods to expand their operations.
Another type of online casino criminals are unlicensed website. The organisers may or may not have links to other organised criminal activity. These are often set up as seemingly legitimate businesses. However, as they are unlicensed, they are also unregulated. For the player there is little chance of winning. These unlicensed sites are usually fronts for money laundering operations. In a report in 2015, the US Department of Justice highlighted a number of high profile cases of websites shut down and their organisers jailed.
Scams and Scammers
With illegal online gambling, the potential for the public to become a victim of a scam is now much greater than it ever was. It is easy and cheap to create a glossy website and make it look legitimate. Criminals realise that all they need is the appearance of respectability and the curious player will sign up with their personal details. Once the bank account, credit card or other payment method is entered, scammers can spend away.
Similar to the scammers who take illegally take money from credit card and bank accounts, these same individuals may also be involved in identity fraud. All it takes is a simple website claiming to be an online casino (or a discount site or a portal to new games with lots of prizes) and then using those personal details to apply for credit cards, driver’s licenses and other things. Fraudsters will also share these illegally held details amongst others in the criminal fraternity.
The biggest problem associated with online casino crime is money laundering, It is just one front for the criminals, but because of the growth of legal online gambling, criminals have spotted a great avenue to launder money. McAfee estimates that there are around 25,000 legal gambling sites in the world with more opening and closing every day. The problem is not the number of sites, but the volume of transactions that take place every day. With the addition of Bitcoin as a paying method the potential is even greater. It is believed that the same people behind online casino crime is also behind the malware known as Ransomware.