Tuesday May 19,2015 : AUSSIE COPS IN ONLINE BOOKIE RAIDS
Betjack the target as player complaints of no-pay rise.
Australian police officers raided a number of Gold Coast bookmaking properties last week, although charges have only been laid against Vanuatu-licensed Betjack, the Aussie newspaper The Age reports.
The bookie is suspected of owing millions of dollars to Aussie online sports punters, and there is speculation that it may have links to organised crime figures in Melbourne.
The Gold Coast raids targeted what the police described as "boiler room" operations – establishments that pop up for short periods before being dismantled and re-established under new identities elsewhere.
Betjack operates a Gold Coast call centre, where it appears computers and financial records were seized by the police following "dozens of complaints" from Australian gamblers.
"Professional punters who were lured into gambling with Betjack believe now it was nothing more than a rogue gambling outfit with deep criminal undercurrents," The Age reports, revealing that one gambler claimed he was owed A$700,000, and knew of another million dollars that Betjack allegedly owes to punters.
The newspaper quotes the punter on the allegedly brutal behaviour of the bookie firm:
"They were a frightening outfit. The moment you owed them, there would be a thug that would kick your door in and I'm just talking 24 hours after the money was lost.
"But in my case, I was owed $700,000 and was told: ‘If you don't want your head blown off, keep your mouth shut'.
"They revelled in intimidation and were known Australian-wide as a con operation that would cold-call punters to put money into their account and that's the last you would see of it.
"In Sydney, I'm told that a winning punter was threatened with severe injuries if he told the police what was happening inside the Betjack operation."
Other reports flagged by The Age included A$150,000 owed to bettors at a Melbourne gold club, and a punter who deposited A$50,000 at Betjack, running it up to A$250,000. He was unable to cash his winnings, instead receiving back his original deposit with a warning never to visit the site again.
Last September Racing Victoria triggered an investigation into Betjack following complaints from players, which had been referred to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. In addition, the company had refused to comply with the organisation's race fields policy.
Interviewed by The Age, Queensland fraud and cyber group police officer Brian Hay confirmed that one John Robert Hanneman (54) had been charged with fraud and will appear in court next (June) month.
The police officer detailed the aggressive tactics used by marketers working for questionable bookies to draw in punters by offering high returns. However, in many cases deposits disappeared and punters were unable to retrieve their money as their accounts were "wiped" and the bookie sites disappeared, he claimed.
Hanneman has in the past protested that he is merely a marketer.