By John Ensor • 15 September 2023 • 19:33
Police dismantle satellite dishes used in betting fraud. credit: PoliciaNacional/X
A gang that used an innovative technological system to defraud bookmakers has been dismantled in a combined police effort
On Friday, September 15, details of a recent operation were reported by Policia Nacional in which they, alongside the Spanish Tax Agency, Europol, and Interpol, uncovered a criminal network that used satellite technology to rig sports events, primarily outside Spain. The operation, which began in 2020, led to the arrest of 23 individuals, including key figures from a major bookmaker.
This criminal syndicate, with roots in Romania and Bulgaria, had developed an innovative system. By harnessing satellite technology, they intercepted live signals from sports venues worldwide. This gave them a crucial edge, allowing them to place bets with bookmakers using a delayed signal.
Essentially, they knew the outcome before the bookmakers did. This method was exploited in various sports events, including Asian and South American football leagues, UEFA Nations League, Bundesliga, the Qatar 2022 World Cup, and ATP and ITF tennis tournaments.
The group’s leader had corrupted footballers in Romania, dictating match outcomes. Furthermore, he shared this insider information with other match-fixers, broadening the criminal network. This two-pronged approach ensured the group maximised their profits. To avoid detection, winnings were collected using numerous people, making it appear as though different individuals were cashing in.
A significant revelation was the arrest of a ‘trader’ from a renowned bookmaker. This individual was in collusion with the criminal group and validated the fraudulent online bets.
The syndicate’s reach was vast, maintaining ties with international criminal factions. This global connection prompted involvement from both Europol and Interpol, with representatives travelling to Spain to aid the investigation.
During the operation, authorities confiscated a host of items, including computer equipment, around 80 mobile phones, two satellite dishes, signal receivers, a luxury car, €5,000 in cash and another €13,000 in counterfeit notes. they also confiscated numerous cards, and over 200 prepaid SIM cards.
Additionally, 47 bank accounts and 28 payment gateways were frozen. The hunt continues for other members of this syndicate and the athletes involved in the match-fixing.
The use of ‘satellite technology sports fixing’ has uncovered a new frontier in the world of sports corruption, reminding the authorities of the lengths criminals will go to for financial gain.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.
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