An organisation dedicated to the rigging of sporting events using satellite technology is broken up
Operation of the Tax Agency, National Police, Europol and Interpol
They rigged matches by anticipating results in different sports competitions and specialities, mainly outside Spain
Through new technology, they gained access to live feeds from sports grounds around the world before they reached betting companies to scam them
23 people have been arrested, among them the organisation's leader and the trader of a major bookmaker, who validated the online bets made by the criminal network
15 September 2023.- The Spanish Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Officers, in a joint operation with the Spanish National Police, Europol and Interpol, has dismantled an organisation dedicated to rigging sporting events through satellite technology. The group's members rigged matches by anticipating results in different sports competitions, mainly outside Spain. Through new technology, they gained access to live feeds from sports grounds around the world before they reached betting companies to scam them.
23 people have been arrested, among them the organisation's leader and the trader of a major bookmaker, who validated the online bets made by the criminal network.
The operation began in 2020 when officers detected a number of suspicious online bets on international table tennis events. Subsequent analysis led to the detectives identifying a criminal network of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, established in Spain, who corrupted athletes mainly from these two same nationalities.
The organisation's members rigged matches by predicting results in different sports competitions and specialities, mainly held outside Spain. Once the result or any other circumstance was agreed, they made the online bet in mass from Spain.
The group obtained financial gains in two ways. The head of the organisation corrupted several football players from different teams in Romania, with whom they rigged the matches. In addition, they provided information to other fixers, so they could use privileged information for their own benefit. This enabled them to gather information from rigged events orchestrated by other criminal organisations dedicated to fraud of a similar nature.
New technology system
The criminal organisation used a new and highly sophisticated technology system, with proven results both nationally and internationally, based on satellite technology and capturing live feeds. As a result, the group's members gained access to live feeds from sports grounds around the world before they reached the betting companies, which were taken advantage of by the criminal organisation to make winning bets, with the certainty of anticipating the feed obtained by the betting companies and thus scam them. They also had other systems at their disposal, which were less sophisticated but generated considerable earnings, as they were able to anticipate the feed received by the betting companies and make winning bets.
This modus operandi was mainly used in Asian and South American football leagues, UEFA Nations League, Bundesliga, 2022 Qatar World Cup and the ATP and ITF tennis tournaments.
To avoid suspicion among betting companies, they placed their bets in the names of other people, and although the gains were very high, they were apparently collected various people.
In collusion with a trader of a major bookmaker
Among the people arrested was a trader from a major bookmaker, who validated the online bets made by the criminal network, in collusion with the organisation's leaders.
The organisation had direct and permanent contact with international criminal groups, which is why Europol and Interpol provided their help. Members of both police organisations travelled to Spain to operate. Other police cooperation measures were also activated through the Spanish Internal Affairs Office in Bucharest (Romania), where a European evidence warrant was issued and became a key element to unravel the complex criminal network created to rig sports competitions in Romania.
As a result of this investigation, 23 people have been arrested, 22 of them in different Spanish provinces, of which three have been imprisoned. In addition, an International Arrest Warrant was issued to detain the criminal gang's leader, who was extradited to Spain and imprisoned.
Four house searches were carried out, in which numerous computer material, around 80 mobile phones, two large satellite dishes along with signal receivers, a high-end vehicle, 5,000 euros in cash, 13,000 euros in counterfeit notes, several credit and debit cards, third-party documentation and more than 200 prepaid SIM cards were intervened. In addition, 47 bank accounts and 28 payment gateways have been blocked.
The investigation is ongoing to locate and bring to justice other members of the criminal organisation, as well as to identify the various athletes participating in the rigging of the sporting events.
Filming of the operation (to download the video, enter the following website address):