Home News Betting Fraud Crackdown: 53 Arrests Made in International Sweep

Betting Fraud Crackdown: 53 Arrests Made in International Sweep

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53 “mules” that rigged sporting events and defrauded betting houses have been arrested

In the second phase of a joint operation targeted on betting fraud by the National Police, Tax Agency, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL: 53 “mules” serving an organization that rigged sporting events and defrauded betting houses have been arrested.

The detainees provided their identity details and/or personal accounts on different betting platforms in exchange for a sum of money. The gang leaders of the organization then used their identities to bet on various sports competitions.

The first phase of the investigation into betting fraud, in which 22 people were already arrested in different Spanish provinces, rigged sporting events in more than 20 countries. These were Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, or Bolivia, where they obtained prizes of up to 2,000,000 euros from bets.

The organization had a novel and highly sophisticated technological system to defraud betting houses. This was based on the interception of satellite signals and the capture of feed content.

The operation also had the collaboration of the General Directorate of Gambling Regulation (DGOJ), under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The Betting Fraud Crackdown operation constitutes the second phase of an investigation that began in 2020 when the National Police’s National Center for Integrity in Sports and Betting (CENPIDA) detected a series of suspicious online sports bets, placed on international table tennis events. The initial investigations accredited the existence of a criminal network of Romanian and Bulgarian origin, settled in our country, with the capacity to corrupt athletes, mainly from their countries of origin.

At this point, the collaboration of Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency was required for asset investigation, location, and monitoring, as well as the identification of investigated subjects who acted under nicknames or even usurped identities.

Given the criminal specialization of the network and the direct and permanent contacts it maintained with other international criminal organizations based in different countries, mechanisms for international police cooperation were activated. In this sense, the investigation had the support of the Anti-Corruption Group of the European Centre for Economic and Financial Crime (EFECC) of EUROPOL, as well as specialists from INTERPOL’s Centre for Financial Crime and Corruption (IFCACC) and its Match-Fixing Task Force.

They rigged sporting events – their own and those of other fixers – and defrauded betting houses using cutting-edge technology.

The members of the dismantled organization employed different modus operandi and, furthermore, had created a complex criminal network to launder the money obtained from bets.

On the one hand, they rigged matches by pre-determining results in different competitions and sports specialties, mainly held outside the national territory. Once the outcome of the event was agreed upon – or any circumstance that could be the subject of a bet – they carried it out massively online from Spain, which brought them huge economic benefits.

On the other hand, the organization had a novel and highly sophisticated technological system, based on the interception of satellite signals and the capture of feed content of the same (live broadcast of the sports event). This allowed them to access the live signal from sports fields worldwide, anticipating the signal received by betting houses, a circumstance they took advantage of to place massive winning bets.

They controlled over 1,500 gaming accounts

The agents accredited that the organization had hundreds of identities that they used to place bets. In this way, they obtained very high prizes in the names of third parties that, apparently, were collected by different people but were actually pocketed by the investigated individuals. This, coupled with the fact that they used both cryptocurrencies and payment gateways as the usual means in their financial operations, made it difficult for agents to trace the bets placed. Likewise, the investigation has accredited that they handled a huge amount of data, managing to control over 1,500 gaming accounts.

75 arrested and rigged sporting events in more than 20 countries in betting fraud crackdown

The investigation accredited fraudulent activities linked to match-fixing in different sports and in more than 20 countries within and outside the European Union, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, or Bolivia. This evidenced the enormous potential of the dismantled network, which managed to obtain prizes of up to 2,000,000 euros from bets placed in these countries.

The operation, carried out in two phases, has ended with a total of 75 arrests. In the first phase, the agents arrested 22 people – with the imprisonment of the two leaders of the network decreed – and carried out 4 raids in the provinces of Guadalajara, Madrid, and Zaragoza. In the second phase, another 53 people who acted as “mules”, providing their identity details and/or personal accounts on different betting platforms in exchange for a sum of money, were arrested.

As a result of the raids, the agents seized numerous computer equipment, 80 mobile terminals, 2 large satellite dishes along with signal receivers, a high-end vehicle, 5,000 euros in cash, and 13,000 euros in counterfeit bills. In addition, they have also seized a large number of bank cards and documentation in the name of third parties, and more than 200 prepaid SIM cards from different telephone companies. On the other hand, 47 bank accounts, 28 accounts in payment gateways, and 400,000 euros in cryptocurrencies have been blocked.

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