GEORGE TOWN: From snatching back a kidnapped child in Egypt and reuniting her with her mother in Australia, busting a vacation scam targeting holidaymakers, to busting an Olympic ticketing scam to arresting a boiler room gang in the Philippines that cheated thousands of people worldwide, investigator extraordinaire Ken Gamble has done it all.
Death threats and a price on his head are all in a day’s work for Gamble, he shared with FMT over a glass of ice cold nutmeg juice at a cafe in Penang recently, where he spoke at an international seminar on cyber security. Gamble’s professional career revolves around capturing some of the most elusive con artists and fugitives in the world, including in cybercrime, financial scams and fraud.
Egypt is 4,000km away from Australia and has a population of 100 million. What are the chances of finding a rogue husband hiding a little girl from her mother?
Yet Gamble’s dogged commitment and vast experience resulted in exactly that: the tearful and emotional return of a young girl safely into her Australian mother’s arms after she was kidnapped by her Egyptian father.
Gamble saw the story aired on Australian TV show “A Current Affair” about a fruitless effort to find and rescue a four-year-old girl kidnapped by her strict Muslim father and taken into hiding in Egypt.
Gamble felt in his heart that he had to act, to help right this tragic wrong. He was confident that he could pull off this near impossible feat.
Gamble approached “A Current Affair” and was retained by the show to work on the case, starting a long and complex search with the desperate and heartbroken mother. He eventually found the girl and pulled off a daring rescue in the midst of a betrayal by the Egyptian police.
He had lodged a police report on his intention to take back the girl, and the police decided to beat him to it and arrest the father first. In the ensuing pre-dawn melee, Gamble successfully retrieved the little girl.
One of Gamble’s recent success stories is a scam based in the Philippines that stretched across the globe and ended in financial ruin and shattered dreams for investors.
The “shareholders” discovered that their “investment firm” wasn’t based in London or New York, the impressive website was a fake and their financial advisors were actually criminals based in Manila.
Ken Gamble’s major busts include a takedown of a scam syndicate in Manila, documented by Al Jazeera TV’s 101 East programme.
These were sophisticated scammers, hiring full-time call centre staff who worked lists of potential victims armed with a convincing script.
Gamble’s takedown of this syndicate was witnessed by Al Jazeera TV’s 101 East programme which documented the arrests in an episode entitled “Swindle Kings of Manila”. This, and many of Gamble’s other busts, can be viewed on YouTube.
A former army reservist, boxer and fireman, Gamble has dedicated more than 30 years to scam and fraud investigations and has good relations with law enforcement contacts around the globe.
Gamble broke out into a wry smile when FMT asked if his job is as glamorous as most people think.
He shared that the glamorous side of what he does is travelling around the world and staying in five-star hotels, directing investigations, hiring BMWs and drivers as part of his “sting” on cheats and swindlers.
“It does sounds glamorous when you think about it. Some of the places I go to are so exotic and expensive that people see my job as glamorous.”
Gamble is the co-founder and chairman of IFW Global, which has a universal network of professional investigators to help solve cases and uncover criminal networks for its clients across the world.
Some of IFW’s many successes include catching the NRL Hacker, busting the Beijing Olympic ticket scammer, exposing the Rugby World Cup fake ticketing website, busting boiler room fraudsters in the Philippines and tracking down movie pirates.