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Friday, 10 December 2010

Students and More youngers hooked on online gambling lives away to fund habit

Students turn to Ah Long to fund habit


KUALA LUMPUR: Students as young as 16 are turning to loan sharks to pay off their Internet gambling debts, forcing their parents to settle their huge debts.

This year alone, the MCA Public Complaints Bureau has received seven such cases with a total debt of RM874,800.

In one case, a 45-year-old mother was now being harassed by loansharks as her 21-year-old son had racked up debts of almost RM30,000 since his college days.

The mother, who identified herself as Madam Yong, said at a press conference yesterday that Ah How had been involved in Internet football gambling since last year when he was in college. She has not seen him for two months now.

Yong said she paid Ah How’s RM2,000 debt the first time.

“He promised never to gamble again, but did not keep his word,” she said. Yong said to fund his betting, Ah How sold the shares she had bought in his name.

On Dec 2, she received a call from a debt collector called “Ah Boon,” telling her that her son still owed him RM26,500.

“I am speaking out so that other parents can be aware of this issue,” said Yong at the MCA Public Complaints Bureau. “Anyone can fall victim to Internet gambling and loan sharks.”

According to bureau chief Datuk Micheal Chong, many parents had come to him with the same problem “and all involved boys aged between 16 and 20”.

“My worry is that this is mostly happening to Chinese students,” he said.
Chong said he suspected that a syndicate was working with bookies and loansharks to lure students into illegal gambling.

“It is easier to target the youngsters by commissioning other students to encourage them to gamble online,” added Yong.

Chong said these bookies and loansharks were not concerned over students not paying up because they know that their parents would.

“It is the parents who suffer the most,” he said.
“Prevention is better than cure; so please advise your children not to get involved in online gambling.”

More teens gambling lives away

By Elizabeth Zachariah ,

KUALA LUMPUR: More and more young adults are turning to gambling for fast and easy money.
MCA public services and complaints department head Datuk Michael Chong revealed yesterday that his department had received seven such cases this year alone with debts totalling RM874,800.

"The cases we see nowadays involve teenagers as young as 18," he said at Wisma MCA, adding that this was just the tip of the iceberg as many cases went unreported.

Chong said one of the cases he received involved a 20-year-old student who became an online gambler, running up a debt of RM800,000.
He said as was the case with all the others, the youth had tried paying it off by lying to his parents that he needed the money for studies.

He finally confessed to his parents when the debtors called his home demanding for payment.

His parents, who could not afford to pay back, approached Chong's department for help.

Their son had since gone into hiding to escape the debt collectors' harassment.

Chong said the young gamblers, all male, were described as hardworking, obedient and studious by their families.

"But because they mixed with the wrong crowd, they found themselves in hot water."

He said most of the bookies were classmates and ex-schoolmates of these gamblers.

"Students are easily taken in by the syndicates who use their peers to lure them into gambling," he said, adding that their actions could have a detrimental effect on themselves, their families and careers.

One such student is Ah How, 21, who first became an online gambler last year while he was studying at a college in Petaling Jaya.

His mother, who wanted to be known only as Yong, said she helped him pay off the RM2,000 debt.

But the second time around early this year, Ah How found himself in debt again and borrowed RM8,000 from his friend and used up RM15,000 worth of investment to pay his debt.

Last week, Yong received a call from a debt collector who informed her that Ah How owed him RM26,500.

"He promised me that he would never gamble again after the first time, but he doesn't seem to be able to stop," she said of her eldest son.

Yong said she came forward as she wanted her son's case to serve as a lesson to other young adults who were hooked on gambling

Read more: More teens gambling lives away