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Macau's Illicit Money Exchange Becoming More Organized and Professional, Security Chief Warns

Illicit money exchange activities in Macau's casino areas are increasingly becoming "corporatized and professional" in their operations, according to Wong Sio Chak, Macau's Secretary for Security.

Macau's Illicit Money Exchange Becoming More Organized and Professional, Security Chief Warns

At a recent press conference, Wong reported 351 gambling-related crimes in the first quarter of 2024, marking a significant increase of 193 cases, or 122.2 percent, compared to the same period in 2023. However, this also reflects a decrease of 87 cases, or 19.9 percent, compared to the same period in 2019.

 

The surge in gambling-related crimes year-on-year is attributed to a substantial rise in tourist numbers and the recovery of the gaming industry. Police data revealed that fraud was the most prevalent crime associated with the “money-changing business” in the first quarter of 2024, with a total of 149 cases. This figure represents an increase of 112 cases from 2023 and 107 cases from the first quarter of 2019.

 

Out of 124 cases involving the “money exchange businesses,” perpetrators employed methods such as fake notes and remittance fraud. Additionally, there were 20 reported instances where victims of the "money exchange businesses" were defrauded by fraudsters using delayed transfers or forged transfer vouchers to steal cash from businesses or individuals.


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Zeng Zhonglu, a gaming scholar, observed that illicit money exchange has long been present around Macau's casino areas. However, he noted that fraud-related cases have become more common compared to the pre-COVID period. “The government should strengthen efforts to combat this issue, as money exchange fraud has a very negative impact on Macau’s gaming industry,” he stated.

 

In the first quarter of 2024, fraud cases constituted a significant portion of gambling-related crimes, totalling 76 cases and making up about 21.7 percent of the total. This was followed by 63 usury cases, accounting for approximately 17.9 percent of the total. There were also 48 cases of theft, representing about 13.7 percent of the total, and 45 cases of improper appropriation, comprising about 12.8 percent of the total.

By fLEXI tEAM

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