Chief Inspector Chan Ka-ying of the New Territories South Regional Criminal Unit said police had noticed that some social media influencers had recently allegedly promoted illegal gambling websites on their online accounts.
She said the investigation led officials to identify seven social media influencers in the city, including one who had used photos of someone else to gain followers.
Between Monday and Sunday last week, officers arrested seven women aged between 20 and 30 in a series of raids in Mong Kok, Tsuen Wan, Tseung Kwan O, Wan Chai and Yuen Long.
During the operation, officers confiscated seven mobile phones, a computer tablet and a laptop.
Police confiscated 76 electronic smoking devices from one of the apartments in Tsuen Wan where a 21-year-old suspect lived.
“We believe that because of their online influence, criminals have offered cash rewards to trick them into promoting illegal gambling websites and attracting gamblers through their social media platforms,” Chan said.
According to a police source, one of the suspects had more than 100,000 followers, while others each had tens of thousands of followers.
Bui has more than 220,000 followers on Instagram. She played along to love or not to love in 2017, erase my love and i sell love in 2014 and has also appeared on TV and online shows in recent years.
He said the suspects’ gambling websites allegedly advertised accepted bets on World Cup football matches and horse racing, adding that one of them is based in the Philippines.
The sites also offered a variety of games like baccarat and blackjack, as well as dice, he said.
The source explained the investigation indicated the seven women did not know each other and officers were investigating whether the suspects were hired by the same gang.
According to the police, the seven women had been released on bail pending further investigation.
Chief Inspector Chan stressed that the police will strengthen law enforcement against bookmaking and illegal gambling activities during the World Cup.
In a separate anti-gambling operation, officers from the Kowloon East Anti-Triad Unit arrested a 37-year-old man and seized HK$1.5 million in football betting records along with HK$28,000 in cash and electronic equipment in an industrial unit in Tsuen Wan last Wednesday.
In February, police arrested a cosmetics businesswoman and social media influencer accused of playing illegally at an online casino and promoting bookmaking.
So Mei-yan, also known as Cry So or So Miu-miu on her social media accounts, has been accused of sharing her activities online on a foreign gambling website. Gambling in an illegal establishment carries a maximum penalty of nine months in prison and a fine of HK$30,000.
So, who posted pictures of her lavish lifestyle on social media, made headlines in November 2020 when she was the victim of a robbery. Her Facebook account shows that she has 27,333 followers.
The social media influencer was tied up along with her six-month-old son and a maid when three men broke into her home near Cheung Sha Wan in daylight. The trio fled with valuables.
On the day of the raid, police said the value of the stolen property was estimated at HK$3.6 million.
Police announced the arrest of nine suspects in December 2020 and said the victim claimed the valuables were worth more than HK$10 million.