Spain and INTERPOL Work to Break Up Match Fixing Syndicate

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A joint operation involving the Spanish National Police, Spanish Tax Agency, Europol, and INTERPOL, busted a large criminal organization linked to sports match-fixing and the manipulation of bookmakers’ odds.

Detection of Suspicious Bets Leads to Major Bust

The investigation, active since 2020, began when strange online bets on international table tennis tournaments caught the attention of Spanish enforcement units. This trail led them to an intricate criminal nexus, with most of its members hailing from Romania and Bulgaria.

The core of their illegal operation hinged on influencing athletes to sway match results outside Spain. After setting these manipulations in motion, members based in Spain overwhelmed online betting platforms with massive bet placements.

The syndicate’s abilities lay in its technological edge over bookmakers. Using cutting-edge technology, they tapped into live video broadcasts directly from global sports venues, giving them a lead time in placing bets. On the other hand, bookmakers depended on comparatively delayed satellite transmissions.

The criminal ring’s operations involved a number of sporting events worldwide, such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League, German Bundesliga, and various tennis tournaments. Despite their conspicuous winnings, they avoided raising suspicion using diverse identities and accounts.

Worryingly, one of the arrested individuals had ties to a leading bookmaker, hinting at deeper corruption within the betting industry itself.

INTERPOL Helps to Expose the Syndicate

INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre took the lead by deploying the INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF) and making use of its global police resources.

Organized crime groups will exploit the tiniest of gaps given the opportunity. In this case, we’re talking about a 20- or 30-second advantage that led to significant gains.

Jürgen StockINTERPOL Secretary General

IMFTF experts teamed up with Spanish officials during search operations, assisting in data extraction from confiscated gadgets and comparing this data with INTERPOL’s records.

The joint action culminated in freezing 47 bank accounts and halting 28 payment gateways across several nations. Confiscated items ranged from mobile phones and satellite equipment to counterfeit money, cards, IDs, and SIM cards. Meanwhile, recent reports indicate 17 arrests in Spain related to match-fixing suspicions surrounding a football team’s top brass and players.

Related: FIFA Finds No Suspicious Betting Activities in Women's World Cup