Online traders are acting as a front for illegal gambling operators by processing payments for them according to Reuters.

The news agency says it has exposed a network of shell companies, apparently trading in household goods but actually engaged in masking illegal online gambling transactions.

Fabric seller

One trader,, purports to sell all kinds of fabric whereas in fact it sells none.

The news agency’s reporters unearthed several sites advertising household goods for sale.

Ghost traders

The journalists placed orders with the sites but no goods were delivered. The ghost traders refunded money without question after the journalists complained they had received no goods.

Staff who answered calls on behalf of one of the traders admitted the company sold no products and they worked for a payment processor called Agora Online Services, which dealt with online gambling transactions.

Transaction laundering

One type of transaction laundering used by the company employed credit cards, which use merchant codes to identity the nature of a transaction. Payments related to gambling, for example, are automatically given the code 7995, which alerts financial institutions that the payment may need to be refused for legal reasons.

But since the company used codes for household goods, no such alert was triggered.