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Jail sentence issued in £236k bet365 fraud plot

An Essex fraudster has been jailed for five years for his role in a scheme against bet365 which saw the bookmaker swindled of over £236,000 via the use of false identities and bonus abuse.

Jon Howard played a leading part in the syndicate, which opened over 1,000 bet365 accounts using different aliases to avoid deposit restrictions and use the various sign-up bonuses on offer.

The court heard that Howard and his co-defendants used information from people who handed over their details willingly so that the syndicate could impersonate them to set up the bet365 accounts.

It is not clear when the scheme began, but Essex Police first became aware of it in 2018. Howard has subsequently been found guilty of fraud against both bet365 and Santander Bank, but not guilty of money laundering by a jury, 

Detective Sergeant Mike Monkton, of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Betting online in someone else’s name is against the terms of use. The whole enterprise was dishonest and designed to deceive the gambling company.

“When we were notified in 2018, we embarked upon a lengthy and complex investigation that took some time to unravel. When we executed a warrant at Jon Howard’s address in Stapleford Tawney in February 2019, it was obvious that this was set up to look like any other legal business.

“Hours were spent trawling through paperwork in different names, receipts for luxury items, bank books and 177 sim cards that were seized from the address. Substantial sums of money were involved.”

The incident is the second time this year bet365 has found itself the target of fraudsters, with the first instance being a case of sporting integrity, Scottish lower league striker Kane Hester was accused of an intentional booking.

The Elgin City player was allegedly involved in a plot alongside three friends to deliberately receive a card in a game against Hiberianian, after placing bets on this to happen via bet365’s website.

As the UK awaits the judgements of the government’s Gambling Act review and digitisation across the industry continues, anti-fraud and player identification measures have become a pressing issue for many operators.

Part of this is due to the strict anti-money laundering requirements of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) – which has issued fines against several operators for breaching these standards over the past year.

Commenting on these requirements last week, and referencing the UKGC’s recent record fine against William Hill, Fergal Parkinson, Director of TMT Analysis, shared his views on how operators can better verify player identities to avoid both the risk of fraud and regulatory enforcement action.

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