Macau’s Judiciary Police announced on Tuesday that the force had helped, with mainland authorities, to break up an alleged rogue point-of-sale (POS) machine operation in Macau thought to have generated transactions worth CNY11.62 billion (US$1.8 billion) since 2016, with CNY69 million of that going to the gang.
Criminals from both sides of the border were thought to have been using handheld bank card payment terminals meant for the mainland, but which had been modified without authorisation, allegedly for use in a number of Macau shops.
The scam was said to have been in existence as far back as 2016, and was designed to help gamblers get cross-border access to cash, in defiance of mainland China’s currency-control rules, one police spokesperson confirmed to GGRAsia.
In a Tuesday press briefing, Cheong Kam Fai, another spokesperson for the Judiciary Police, said the force had on Sunday detained 30 people amid a crackdown on 12 shops, two offices and 19 flats and seized several handheld point-of-sale terminals.
“Their illicit operation was worth CNY11.62 billion. The gains of the group from these illicit efforts amounted to approximately CNY69 million,” Mr Cheong told local press.
It was suspected the handheld devices had been illegally modified to register Macau-based sales transactions as having taken place on the mainland, where transaction fees are smaller, Mr Cheong also explained in the briefing.
The targeted stores were registered either as pawnshops, jewellery shops, or telecommunication products outlets, the other police spokesperson – who asked not to be quoted by name – explained to GGRAsia.
The use of the allegedly illegally-rejigged POS terminals was believed to have aided people “in the vicinity of casinos” – including gamblers – that were looking to get fresh cash by purchasing items from the shops using their mainland bank cards, and then immediately returning the purchased items in exchange for cash, the anonymous Judiciary Police spokesperson added. In the past, some Macau retailers were thought to have charged card users a fee under such a process.
The Sunday operation in Macau was part of a joint operation with mainland China public security agencies in the provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong and Fujian, the Judiciary Police’s Mr Cheong noted in the Tuesday briefing. The alleged criminal group was believed to have had members active in Macau and mainland China since 2016, Mr Cheong said in the Tuesday press briefing.
“The cross-border group involved in this case has been in operation since 2016, until now,” Mr Cheong said.
Police units in Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong had recently detained 39 people across the respective provinces, over their alleged collaboration with the people on the Macau side of the border, Mr Cheong noted.
Of 30 people detained in the Macau Judiciary Police’s Sunday operation, 12 were local residents. The other 18 were all mainland China residents, of whom 16 held Macau non-resident worker permits, Mr Cheong added.
“This joint operation [with mainland China] has successfully dissolved the whole cross-border criminal group. Our unit will charge these 30 suspects with the crime of committing computer fraud and being involved in organised crime,” Mr Cheong told the media in the Tuesday briefing.
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