An Australian gambler was able to parlay A$1,600 (US$1,245) into an incredible A$56,000 (US$43,000) after pulling off an upset win during a horserace in February 2013. While he basked in his winnings and the attention he received after the long-shot victory, some began quietly questioning how it was possible. The truth has finally come out, with the gambler among 78 looking at charges of fraud.
Edward Ridgway was the prophet who foresaw Alma’s Fury winning the race that day. The track was wet, which always resulted in a poor performance by the horse. Always, except for one race. That win unleashed an investigation that uncovered a history of fraudulent bets. All of the bets were perpetrated by the same individual, Stephen Charles Fletcher, who was already in hot water for receiving insider information in various gambling activities, according to The Sydney Morning Herald report.
Fletcher was first introduced to authorities in 2006 after he and his betting partner, Eddie Hayson, had won millions wagering on a rugby match. Authorities accused the pair of learning prior to the match that a key player wouldn’t be on the field due to an injury, and used the information to enter their bets. Both Fletcher and Hayson denied the allegations, and there wasn’t enough proof for a conviction. However, Fletcher was subsequently banned from gambling.
From September 2012 to March 2013, Fletcher used the identities of 77 individuals, including police officers, to continue his betting activities, according to the report. He has been shown to have been behind bets placed at a number of horserace tracks around Australia, and also in Hong Kong and Singapore. In one instance, he used Ridgway’s account in a horserace in Hong Kong, turning US$233 into US$13,774. In February 2013, Fletcher made 28 bets under the names of others in racing events ranging from greyhounds in Western Australia to harness racing in Penrith.
Former police officers Senior Constable Marc Smith and Senior Constable Tony Williams were also caught up in the investigation. The duo face charges for soliciting fellow officers to join in on the fraud. It has been determined that Williams met Fletcher through the latter’s friend, Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, who is also under investigation.
Fletcher has now been charged with 78 counts of “dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.” Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in an Aussie prison. Knowing his propensity for using others’ identities, authorities will probably want to make sure it’s really him before sending him away.