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Crime

Elena Chong
Monday, Sep 15, 2014

Crime

Ex-S'pore Pools employee jailed for rigging betting odds

The Straits Times | Elena Chong | Monday, Sep 15, 2014

A former sports betting trader and his colleague cheated their employer by manipulating football odds to guarantee themselves a windfall.

Yesterday, Thomas Tong Heng Huat, 31, was jailed for five years and four months. He is the first of the two men to plead guilty to 16 of 52 charges of conspiracy to cause the Singapore Pools server to access a computer programme called Margin Marker 2.

Through this computer programme, the trader can balance the supply and demand for opposite ends of a bet through proper pricing/adjustment of the odds.

Tong's former colleague, Indonesian Ricky Widjaja, 25, a Singapore permanent resident, has been charged and his case will be mentioned next Friday.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Joshua Lai and Leong Weng Tat said the duo devised a plan in August 2011 to use their access to Margin Marker 2 to manipulate the odds for the "total goals: over/under" bets for various league and international football matches.

When one was working a shift, he would ensure the odds for bets of these types were over 2.00 for a particular match during certain time windows. The other man, who was not at work, would place a bet which would be accepted by his conspirator, who would often lower the odds minutes later.

The duo coordinated their actions by sending messages to each other, thus creating a "sure win" situation for themselves. The winning tickets were redeemed at various Singapore Pools outlets.

The scam went undetected for almost five months. Investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department showed the two men used it on 52 football matches between August 2011 and January 2012.

The betting amounts ranged from $12,000 to $38,000 for each match and the men were careful not to bet more than $2,000 in a single bet, so that they would not have to produce identification documents. Winnings reached as high as $44,000.

The offences came to light only after Singapore Pools discovered on Jan 20, 2012 that Widjaja had breached staff regulations by placing bets with Singapore Pools.

Singapore Pools paid out a total of $1.34 million. The duo shared the net profits of $198,500. Only $102,013 has been recovered.

DPP Leong said the offences were carefully planned, organised and sophisticated, and difficult to detect. There was blatant abuse of trust and it was an "insider job".

Tong could have been fined up to $50,000 and/or jailed for up to 10 years on each charge under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

elena@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 13, 2014.
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