Swedish digital rights organization Qurium has revealed that they have found around 250 cloned websites that appear to be driving traffic to China-linked gambling sites. The report states that Filipino media outlet MindaNews discovered a Chinese-translated clone of their site with gambling ads. Qurium’s investigation uncovered hundreds of similar clones of private businesses, universities, and public libraries.
The organization alleges that the gambling ads on these cloned sites are linked to a physical address in Isle of Man, a tax haven, and promoted by a company called Kaiyun, which holds a UK business license operated by a Gibraltar-based entity called TGP Europe Limited. TGP, known for providing “white label” gaming services, has been found to breach anti-money-laundering requirements by the UK Gambling Commission.
Furthermore, Qurium also found that most of the cloned site domains were registered by Gname.com Pte. Ltd, an organization known for registering domains resembling other brands for use as gambling sites, and has been called out by the World Intellectual Property Organization for these activities.
The reason for cloning and registering questionable domains is likely due to some publishers being hesitant to carry certain ads on their sites, leading big ad networks and adtech companies to block certain topics. Illegally cloned sites likely have no issue carrying these ads, making them useful for operators of gambling sites seeking to generate traffic.
It is unclear whether these clones target individuals in the People’s Republic, where gambling is illegal, or the sizable Chinese diaspora. However, the implications are evident: search engines do not favor sites with duplicated content, making these cloned sites at the very least a nuisance to the original web pages.