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Unauthorized money changers make up for majority of Macau gaming-related fraud cases in 2023

February 29, 2024 Macau Crime & Legal

The bulk of gaming-related fraud crimes that Macau police investigated in 2023 were unregistered money changers, particularly those operating close to casino premises, according to information disclosed by Wong Sio Chak, the Secretary for Security in Macau, at the annual crime statistics press conference on Wednesday.

Wong emphasized that since the casino industry recovered from the pandemic-induced recession, there has been an increase in the number of unlicensed money changers.

Police were looking into 257 counts of gaming-related fraud in 2023; this was a 198.8% increase from the year before but a 43.6 percent decrease from the pre-pandemic levels in 2019. According to Wong, since the beginning of the year, unlicensed money changers have been more active, and the most common crime associated with their activities is fraud.

Wong claims that in order to trick victims, these robberies often include the use of fake cash or fictitious remittance promises. The police’s first priority is stopping the flow of illicit funds, and Wong emphasized that his department would keep collaborating with casino operators to enhance police patrol operations.

The Macau police force has been collaborating with the mainland Chinese authorities to ascertain the source and financial circulation of illicit money exchange enterprises that have been detected in Macau. Wong highlighted how the introduction of facial recognition standards at ATMs close to casinos and the stricter cash withdrawal limitations by mainland authorities in the second half of 2018 contributed to the growth of illicit money exchange businesses in Macau.

According to Wong, over 7,000 cases of illicit money exchange activities were investigated by the police in 2019, a significant increase in complaints. Wong cited joint Macau-mainland investigations to identify Jiangxi province in mainland China as a key source of illicit money exchange traders since 2019.

In 2023, authorities in Macau detained 11,870 illicit money exchangers and collaborated with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau to bar 2,048 of those implicated in these offenses from entering the city’s casinos.

Wong also discussed gaming-related crimes in Macau, emphasizing how the nature of offenses has changed since 2019. Major crimes including usury and unlawful detention decreased, while theft and illicit appropriation went up, making up a larger portion of crimes associated to gaming in 2023 compared to 2019.

Original story by: GGRAsia

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