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The Underground Path to Illegal Gambling in China

Created: 27 Jan 2009 19:26:28 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:37:56 GMT
Kelly Conley's picture
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Macau is the only place in China where there is legalized gambling.* In order to gamble legally in China a person would need to spend money on travel and accommodations to get there. Is there a way to avoid the hassle and expenditure of traveling to Macau for those persons that are interested in gambling? Well, it seems that spammers are offering a solution to the Chinese population: gambling online, from the comfort of your home.

Symantec has recently observed what we believe to be the first instance of online casino and sports betting spam using the Chinese language. The layout of the message is very similar to what we frequently see in English-language casino spam. The message asks users to download a number of software packages and register an account. By registering an account, a user automatically becomes eligible for a random amount of free cash or bonus points. This is all a very common occurrence in English-language spam related to gambling. But, again, this is quite new for Chinese language spam.

With the development of the growing casino business in Macau and possibly an increased demand from remote locations, we may be witnessing a new trend in Chinese language spam, that of online gambling promotion. The example below includes the common spam attributes such as randomized “From” names and email addresses. Chinese characters in the “Subject” field are also randomly separated by symbols. Its corresponding promotion domain is registered with a Singaporean address; however, there’s no physical address for contact to be found on the website. The randomization observed in these messages is also commonly seen in English-language casino spam. It really does appear that spammers are expanding their gambling enterprises to include more languages. So far the volume of this spam type is not too significant. However, we will be keeping a close eye on it to monitor changes in volume and technique.

Header Sample:

From: "khyci" <cjeovsjguqad@163sina1.[domain removed].com>

Subject: order 注.册.就.送.88.00.元

(Translation: Subject: order Regis.ter.Now.and.We’

*(State sanctioned lotteries are the only legal form of gambling in China, excluding Macau.)