Fri, May 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Suspects in sports betting pyramid scheme sentenced

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Ten suspects were yesterday convicted of operating an illegal investment scheme after they reportedly made NT$880 million (US$29.46 million) in illicit profits by claiming to represent the European online sports betting company Bwin (必贏博彩集團) over a period of six months.

The New Taipei District Court said that Chou Lin-yang (周麟洋), Wang Huai-chieh (王懷頡) and Chen Wei-ting (陳威廷) set up a company with hired staff that was run as a Ponzi scheme.

The court charged the suspects with financial fraud in contravention of the Banking Act (銀行法), handing down Chou, Wang and Chen prison terms of 11 years and seven months, 10 years and 10 months and eight years and four months respectively, the court said.

Hsieh Sheng-chin (謝昇晉), a teacher who was hired to present seminars on how to make high returns through Bwin investments, was sentenced to eight years and 22 months, while other staff members hired for the scheme were handed sentences of two to nine years. It was the first ruling on the case and it can be appealed, it said.

The scheme began in 2014, when a Malaysian-Chinese named Tan Lung-lai (陳隆萊) visited Taiwan claiming to be Bwin’s main representative in Asia and met with Chou, Wang, Chen, Hsieh and other figures, investigators said.

In his sales pitch, Tan said that people would make their initial investment back in four months and double it in eight months, they said.

Guided by Tan, the suspects organized “investment seminars” at top-of-the-line hotels across the nation to attract people to deposit money into individual accounts — NT$150,000 to NT$2 million per investment unit — claiming that the accounts were registered with Bwin, they said.

The suspects reportedly told Taiwanese investors that they could make good profits by placing bets on soccer, tennis and other sports in the pools run by Bwin, they said.

They provided betting tips, as well as allegedly promising regular bonuses to investors’ accounts — at 0.83 percent per day and 25 percent per month — as well as cash rewards for pulling in new members to expand the pyramid scheme, they added.

Although some bonuses were initially paid out, the scheme collapsed in September 2014 when the operation failed to pay bonuses to its members, which prompted some of them to report the case to the judiciary, which started an investigation, the investigators said.

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