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Spanish Authorities Bust International Sports Match-Fixing Syndicate

The Spanish National Police , in collaboration with the Spanish Tax Agency, Europol, and INTERPOL , have dismantled an extensive organized crime network implicated in match-fixing of sporting events and leveraging technology to manipulate bookmakers’ odds.



International Table Tennis Bets Uncover Vast Sports Match-Fixing Network



This operation, which has been ongoing since 2020, initially came to light when Spanish law enforcement agencies detected a series of suspicious online bets being placed on international table tennis tournaments. As their investigation unfolded, they uncovered a sophisticated criminal network primarily consisting of individuals from Romania and Bulgaria .



The core of their illicit activities involved corrupting athletes to manipulate match outcomes outside of Spain . Once these arrangements were settled, the group’s operatives within Spain inundated online bookmakers with a deluge of bets.



What set this syndicate apart was its ability to outpace bookmakers in obtaining match information. Using advanced technology, they gained access to live video feeds directly from stadiums, arenas, and pitches worldwide. This edge allowed them to place bets with unrivaled certainty, maximizing their profits. In contrast, bookmakers relied on slower satellite feeds and relays for the same events.



The criminal network’s tentacles extended to various global sporting events, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League, German Bundesliga, ATP, and ITF tennis tournaments . Despite reaping substantial rewards, the syndicate managed to evade detection by adopting multiple identities and accounts.



Among those apprehended was an individual affiliated with a prominent bookmaker who colluded with the syndicate to validate their online bets, further implicating the industry in this web of deceit.



INTERPOL’s Crucial Role in Unraveling Global Match-Fixing Network



INTERPOL played a pivotal role in this operation through its Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre , mobilizing the INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF) and employing its extensive global policing resources. 



Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL’s secretary general , commented on the operation, saying: “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.” 



Stock emphasized the importance of such operations and reaffirmed INTERPOL’s commitment to supporting law enforcement agencies worldwide.



IMFTF specialists joined Spanish authorities during house raids, facilitating the extraction and analysis of data from seized devices and cross-referencing information across INTERPOL’s databases.



This collaborative effort led to the blocking of 47 bank accounts and 28 payment gateways across multiple countries. Seized items included mobile phones, satellite dishes, signal receivers, cash, counterfeit banknotes, credit and debit cards, identification documents, and prepaid SIM cards. In other news, 17 arrests have been made in Spain in connection with match-fixing allegations involving a soccer club president and players conspiring to manipulate betting results.

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