Published: September 15, 2023

Interpol busts crime ring exploiting sports feeds for betting advantage

In a sweeping international effort, law enforcement agencies have successfully dismantled an organized crime syndicate that exploited video signals from prominent sporting events, including the 2022 World Cup, to gain an unfair advantage in high-speed betting.

Interpol has reported the arrest of 23 individuals involved in the illicit operation, which includes one of the masterminds behind the network—a figure also linked to the manipulation of international table tennis events.

This collaborative operation was executed with the coordinated efforts of the Spanish national police, the Spanish tax agency, and Europol.

Adding a twist to the story, a trader associated with a major bookmaker was apprehended for his involvement in facilitating online bets placed by the criminal network. These bets were validated after the group obtained critical match information ahead of it becoming accessible to traditional betting companies.

At the heart of this operation was an astute understanding of the time delay inherent in the transmission of high-definition television feeds from stadiums to screens worldwide. Exploiting this brief 20 to 30-second window allowed the crime syndicate to make substantial gains.

Jurgen Stock, Interpol's secretary-general, underscored the craftiness of organized crime. He commented: "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."

The criminal enterprise did not limit its activities to the 2022 World Cup. It extended its influence to matches in the UEFA Nations League men's football tournament, Germany's Bundesliga, and various football leagues across Asia and South America.

In addition to football, the group targeted ATP and ITF tennis tournaments. To evade detection, the perpetrators employed a web of multiple identities and accounts.

Interpol revealed that the criminals harnessed advanced technology to access live video feeds from across the globe, directly from stadiums, arenas, and pitches. Intercepting these signals provided them with a decisive edge over bookmakers, who relied on comparatively slower satellite feeds and relay systems for their data.

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