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Malaysian authorities arrest 27 influencers for promoting illegal gambling



Malaysian authorities arrest 27 influencers for promoting illegal gambling

Police in Malaysia have arrested 27 social media influencers for allegedly promoting illegal online gambling sites, in addition to other activities.

The group, comprising 23 women and four men aged between 21 and 35, was apprehended on June 13 across seven states, in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, and Penang.

A local report explained how the individuals were approached to endorse the betting activity on their social media platforms, based on the extent of their online fans. Mr. Mohd Shuhauly of the Royal Malaysia Police’s Criminal Investigation Department told a recent press conference, “Initial investigations revealed that gambling syndicates hired the suspects based on the number of followers they have on social media.”

He further detailed how “Each influencer is paid between RM1,500 (US$430) and RM8,000 for each social media platform” depending on the follower count, adding “We believe each influencer is active on more than two social media platforms.”

Gambling is heavily restricted in the Muslim-majority Asian state with a population of just under 35 million although some forms of betting, such as lotteries, casino games, and horse racing, are legal and permitted. Conversely, online betting and sports betting (at bookmakers) are illegal.

Ongoing investigations and five further arrests

30 mobile phones were confiscated as part of the ongoing investigation into this activity which has been active for the last year, while the authorities continue their efforts to track down those individuals responsible for the gambling syndicates, as confirmed by Mohd Shuhaily.

“We are investigating the influencers under the Open Gaming House Act and Section 233 of the Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Act,” he stated.

In addition to promoting illegal gambling sites, the influencers raked in funds from selling cosmetics and other products.

A related case has resulted in the arrest of four women and a man for the alleged promotion of prostitution, pornography, and unlicensed sexual stimulants.

Mr. Mohd Shuhaily relayed that “The group is led by a 27-year-old local woman known as ‘Miza Ozawa’, who has a prior criminal record for assaulting her own mother.”

He outlined how Ozawa along with a 26-year-old Indonesian woman and a 20-year-old Indonesian man were actors in the sexually explicit videos sold online, while two other Malaysian nationals were thought to be responsible for the production of the content.

Image credit: Thilipen Rave Kumar/Pexels

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