CAUGHT: Match fixing gang arrested in Spain after bribing professional tennis players

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SEIZED: €167,000 was confiscated during the operation. Photo: Guardia Civil and Europol

FIFTEEN people have been arrested for a tennis match fixing scam that netted millions from gambling.

Spanish Guardia Civil officers smashed the Armenian gang that had managed to tempt 28 professional players to accept bribes to fix matches in ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments. One of them took part in the last US Open.

Eighty three people have been implicated in the match fixing crime.

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The investigation, codenamed Operation Bitures, started in 2017 when the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) an international anti-corruption body, made a complaint about a Spanish tennis player, who has not been named.

Guardia Civil then unraveled a web of criminals who allegedly bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and stole the identities of hundreds of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games.

The Armenian gang used a professional tennis player as the link between them and other players.

Gang members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level.

On the action day, 11 house searches were carried out in Spain in which €167,000 in cash was seized, alongside a shotgun, over 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case. Furthermore, 42 bank accounts and their balances have been frozen.

Guardia Civil officers were supported by three Europol experts who provided on-the-spot assistance including real-time cross-checks, IT forensic support, and data analysis.

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