Police in the Australian state of Queensland have launched raids against several ‘boiler room’ operations linked to Vanuatu-based online bookmaker Betjack.
Last September, Betjack was in the mainstream Aussie news after word spread that a significant number of its customers – including some high-rollers owed six-figure sums – were finding it nigh on impossible to collect their winnings. The total outstanding sum owed to Bejack punters is believed to be in the millions of dollars.
Earlier this month, police raided three locations on the Gold Coast described as ‘boiler room’ operations, which materialize out of nowhere, operate for a short time, then shut just as abruptly before rematerializing somewhere else. The Age reported that police seized computers and banking records belonging to Betjack via these raids.
Police have so far laid charges against only one of these Betjack-associated operators. John Robert Hanneman, who is believed to have operated the Betjack site from January 2008 to April 2012, stands accused of defrauding 19 punters out of $450k. Police said betting sites linked to Hanneman – including International Sports Online – had generated $4m in profits by 2012.
In a 2012 interview, Hanneman denied operating the websites, saying he’d been “stitched up big time” and that he only did “marketing for these people. That’s as far as I go.”
Police have linked Betjack with Melbourne crime figures Mick Gatto and Tony Mokbel. The latter individual is currently in jail on drug charges but is believed to have appointed his associate Jack Doumani as Betjack’s manager.
Betjack reportedly employed aggressive cold-calling tactics to lure customers/victims into making deposits. But when punters who’d parlayed those deposits into winnings requested withdrawals, they met with either stonewalling or threats of violence.
One bettor who claimed to be owed $700k told Fairfax Media that Betjack would send “a thug that would kick your door in” to collect losses within 24 hours of the sporting event in question. But when winnings were owed, the punter was told: “If you don’t want your head blown off, keep your mouth shut.”