Brilliant! Crooks Exploited Satellite Live Feed Delay for Betting Advantage

A large-scale international operation recently concluded with the dismantling of an organized illegal betting and match-fixing syndicate for exploiting satellite technology to obtain an unfair advantage over others while placing bets. At least 23 individuals have been arrested, including its masterminds and a person involved in manipulating international table tennis events.

The operation was launched in 2020 with the support of Europol, Interpol, Romanian and Spanish national police, and the Spanish tax agency. According to Europol, this criminal network exploited video signals from high-profile sporting events, such as the World Cup 2022, to get an edge in high-speed betting.

The gang used its knowledge of the time delay caused when HD feeds were transmitted from stadiums to television screens worldwide. This 20 to 30-second delay was enough to make monetary gains by making informed bets.

Interpol’s secretary-general, Jurgen Stock, said this was a crafty criminal gang as they benefitted from such a brief time delay.

“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.”

Jurgen Stock – INTERPOL

During the operation, investigators searched four houses and seized two properties, two large satellite dishes and signal receives, three luxury vehicles, 47 bank accounts, 80 cellphones, cash, and counterfeit banknotes worth around €13,000.

Investigation began in 2020 when Spanish law enforcement agencies detected a gang, operating from Romania and Bulgaria, involved in deceptive betting activities. At that time, they believed the group targeted international table tennis events. They bribed the athletes, including players from Romanian football teams, and fixed matches based on their deals.

Later, investigators detected that the gang used satellite technology to get match results. They received live feeds from games before the information reached legit bookmakers and placed bets knowing what was going to happen next beforehand. 

The group exploited this knowledge and placed bets on almost every prominent sporting event, including South American and Asian football leagues, the UEFA Nations League, Bundesliga games, the 2022 Qatar World Cup, and ITF and ATP tennis tournaments. 

They avoided suspicions by hiring people who placed bets on their behalf and collected winnings for the gang. They also bribed a trader from one of the leading betting firms to ensure bets got validated every time without raising an alarm.

“Successful operations such as the one led by Spain only reaffirm our engagement in ensuring our entire suite of notices, databases and expert networks fully support the police in closing these gaps,” Stock stated.