By Kim Rahn
Prosecutors have rounded up a gang that operated an illegal gambling website that disguised itself as that of a kindergarten.
Hundreds of people wagered 12.5 billion won ($10.9 million) on illegal sports betting, according to the prosecution.
The Busan District Prosecutors' Office said Wednesday that it arrested three members of the gang and indicted another nine without physical detention on charges of operating the gambling site.
It is also searching for three others who fled their homes, and indicted 13 people who gambled more than 100 million won each.
The gangsters operated the illegal sports gambling site between April 2010 and last October after disguising the site as one for a preschool. They allowed users to stake unlimited amounts of money on domestic and international sports matches, raking in of some 1.5 billion won.
"They had a main server in Japan and a money exchange booth in China. They laundered money through false-name bank accounts and operated another gambling site for mobile phone users," a prosecutor said.
Through computers and smartphones, hundreds of people spent 12.5 billion won. A professional footballer, who was previously fined twice for gambling, bet 15 million won.
"A pregnant woman staked 350 million won by borrowing money from loan sharks without her husband's knowledge but lost 100 million. She is now paying 2 million won in interest every month," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors said they secured evidence by looking into 260 bank accounts and cell phone records for three months.
"Gangsters' main source of funds seems to have shifted from illegal gambling arcades to online betting sites. We think there may be many more such sites and will expand the probe," the prosecutor said.