Odisha: EOW busts international online football betting racket, arrests Indian agents

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Two individuals arrested by the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of Odisha crime branch from Howrah in West Bengal on Friday reveal a massive online football betting racket being operated from Dubai and China.

J. N. Pankaj, inspector general of the EOW, claimed that the corporation operated a website called 18football that was registered in Hong Kong and engaged in betting, gaming, and chit-fund operations. The website is already suspected of having defrauded thousands of people.

Pankaj, in his official statement, said, “We have found that a large number of people across the country, including over 1,000 in Odisha, invested money on the illegal and dubious online football betting platform. The volume of money cheated by the company would be over Rs 1,000 crore in the country. In Odisha, we suspect that the company duped people, mostly in Ganjam district, to the tune of nearly Rs 1 crore,” according to Times of India.

The investors were promised a variety of profitable incentives, including a 3% daily compound return on investment, recharge bonuses, referral bonuses, additional bonuses on the earnings of the downline members, salary bonuses, and daily withdrawal bonuses according to EOW.

The fraudster would first ask people to make an account on the betting app to place their bets. International mentors were made available to players to help them with their wagering and financial investments through the telegram app.

Initially, the returns provided to the players were very generous, but after some time, when people started investing more, the frauds used to disappear and delete user accounts.

The fraudulent funds were transferred by the fraudsters via numerous Indian shell companies and their directors. In order to mislead law enforcement agents, they also employed mule accounts to ensure complex financial operations.

“One of the shell companies was Kolkata-based Hakim & Rustam Fabrics Pvt Ltd. We have arrested their directors, Rustam Khan and Mohammad Hakim from Howrah. They confessed that they had received a small commission from one Sheikh Saifi in Dubai to run this shell company. We will seek the assistance of central law enforcement agencies as well as Interpol to catch the big fish,” Pankaj further added.