Seven Hong Kong influencers have been arrested by the police and are facing up to seven years in prison for promoting gambling websites online.
Influencers May Have Been Hired by the Same Criminal Organization
South China Morning Post reported that the Hong Kong police have arrested seven women because they are suspected of advertising gambling websites on their social media channels.
Among them is the 28-year-old famous Hong Kong actress Bui Yee-lam aka Chantale Belle, who has over 220,000 followers on Instagram.
One of the other six women has claimed to be a beautician, the other five are unemployed. All of them have between tens of thousands and 100,000 followers on their social media profiles.
According to the police report, the seven women were detained because they were suspected of having advertised gambling websites that accept sports bets on the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Hong Kong police raided the influencers’ houses and confiscated various electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablets and electronic cigarettes.
The Hong Kong police have highlighted that they are cracking down on illegal gambling in the Chinese special administrative region as such activities have increased considerably in connection with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which started in Qatar on November 21.
The Arrested Women May Face up to Seven Years in Prison
According to the findings during the investigation, the seven arrested women did not know each other. The police suspect, however, that a criminal organization operating the illegal gambling websites has contacted them all with offers of money in exchange for posting about the gambling products on social media.
The influencers allegedly posted how they are placing bets on the websites on their stories on Instagram, among other channels, as such posts expire and disappear in 24 hours. The police reported that some of them also shared links to the websites, which offer not only sports betting but other games such as casino games, horse racing wagering, and even baccarat.
There are grounds to believe that the influencers are receiving a few thousand Hong Kong dollars per post but may also be getting a percentage of the wagers they have managed to attract through their social media posts. This may mean that some of them have earned about HKD 100,000 ($12,820) on a monthly basis.
The seven women have been released on bail but are still subject to investigation and may face up to seven years in prison for the promotion of illegal gambling. Gambling on illegal websites, on the other hand, can give up to nine months in prison. Gambling promotion is also subject to a fine of up to HKD 5 million ($640,000), while illegal gambling may bring a fine of HKD 30,000 ($3,845).
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