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USIP Report: Southeast Asia Emerges as Hotbed for Transnational Crime, Linked to China

May 15, 2024 Macau Industry Updates

Southeast Asia is a worrying hub for transnational criminal networks with close ties to China, according to a recent report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

The report draws attention to the region’s weaknesses, mentioning its close proximity, lax legal framework, and permeable borders.

The report claims that these criminal syndicates, who focus on sophisticated frauds and illegal internet gambling, have fooled millions of people worldwide, with an estimated yearly theft of over $64 billion by the end of 2023.

According to the research, a network of loosely regulated casinos and online gambling portals gained popularity in the 1990s and 2000s under the guise of regional administrations’ economic expansion. This network is the source of the surge in scamming operations.

Chinese nationals have become the main targets of these illegal activities because they are not allowed to gamble domestically. China has strong anti-gambling laws, but the nation’s intricate ties to these criminal groups provide a problem.

While some members of scam networks are being pursued by Chinese authorities, others are free to operate throughout Southeast Asia.

The study demonstrates a change in China’s stance, as it admits the harm that these unlawful operations do to its people. But when criminal networks get stronger and take advantage of gaps in law enforcement and local elites to create alliances for protection, the threat still exists.

The study advises regional stakeholders to collaborate in order to effectively tackle transnational crime and safeguard vulnerable populations from deception and exploitation in light of these findings.

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Original Story by: Asian Gaming Brief

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