Turkish authorities have broken up a major illegal online betting ring they claim is linked to a UK gambling figure.
Over the weekend, Cyprus media outlet Havadis reported that an operation led by Istanbul Police had arrested 39 individuals in 20 cities connected to the betting ring. Police said the operation, which had been under surveillance for five months, generated revenue of $100m per month.
Police claim the ring had links to Turkey, Turkish Cyprus and the UK. Police seized around £6m in cash as well as other assets, including luxury cars and apartment blocks. Havadis placed the total value of the assets seized in Cyprus at £150m, while the Turkish-based assets totaled $780m.
Police claimed the betting operation’s ringleaders included a Scott William Masterson (pictured, courtesy of Haberturk.com), who was described as a top exec at a legal UK betting company. A Scott Masterson is identified as a director of the Essex-based Masterson Leisure Ltd., which supplies gaming, lottery and amusement machines for pubs, clubs and arcades.
To avoid putting himself at risk of arrest in Turkey, police claim Masterson made sure to conduct all face-to-face meetings with his local partners in customs-bonded areas.
Police are also on the hunt for the ring’s Cyprus-based boss, Veysel Şahin, and his bodyguard Halil Falyalı. The Turkish Justice Ministry is reportedly preparing to ask Interpol to issue a ‘red notice’ seeking the location, arrest and extradition of the gang’s leaders wherever they may have fled.
The betting outfit was reportedly undone after a local real estate mogul alerted police that his 22-year-old nephew had lost thousands of dollars betting online. Istanbul Police traced the gambling sites to an office in Turkey, in which hidden cameras were installed.
The ring reportedly operated six different gambling sites, with servers based in Israel, Cyprus, Malta and London. Half of the monthly proceeds were reportedly sent to Masterson in the UK.
Havadis claimed one of the ring’s betting sites employed former French footballer Pascal Nouma as a pitchman. Artemisbet, a Turkish-facing, Curacao-licensed betting site, featured Nouma in its Euro 2016 marketing. The site remains active.