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Illustration by Tay Chern Hui/The Straits Times

Publication Date : 24-02-2013

 

Fixer who claims to know results of rigged football games sells tips to Facebook users

 

A self-professed fixer claiming to know the results of allegedly rigged football games has taken to Facebook to hawk betting tips and brag about his predictions that came true.

He uses the account name "Safe Bet" and describes himself as a 33-year-old man, but it is not known where he operates from.

Several Singaporeans have been surprised by postings from him on their Facebook timelines, offering betting tips - for a hefty price.

In his posts, Safe Bet provides teasers to upcoming games in Europe, South America and at least one English league match, and claims that they have been fixed. He then urges "interested and serious buyers" to contact him on his Facebook e-mail.

To prove he is in the know, he highlights past matches saying they turned out as he predicted and he made money.

He appears to have been spot-on in predicting the half-time and full-time results for games in Portugal and England, and exact scores for Brazil and Chile - and those who paid for tips could have got payouts amounting to as much as 23 times the sum they bet.

When The Sunday Times contacted him as an interested punter, Safe Bet confirmed he could offer tips for fixed matches, and he charged 1,500 euros (US$1,900) to 2,500 euros ($3,200) per tip. It is up to punters to place bets with online bookmakers or other bookies.

He did not answer when asked what would happen if he was wrong, whether he was involved in fixing the matches himself, or where he got his tips from. Nor would he reveal how many "clients" he had.

His fee was to be paid via wire transfer, but he did not respond when asked for the account number.

Match-fixing in football has been under the spotlight the last month, after European police, following an investigation, claimed that more than 150 games around the world had been rigged by a Singapore-based syndicate.

Tan Eng Seet, a Singaporean businessman better known as Dan Tan, has been fingered as the alleged mastermind and is now helping Singapore police in investigations. His Slovenian associate, Admir Suljic, was arrested in Italy last Thursday on arrival in Milan from Changi.

The Sunday Times understands that Safe Bet has been offering tips to people here since last September.

Four days before a match between English third division clubs Preston North End and Yeovil Town on September 29, Safe Bet claimed the result had been rigged. After the game, he posted a screen grab of his own Internet betting page from an overseas bookmaker.

He had placed a 200 euro wager on September 25 for Yeovil to lead at half-time and Preston to win at full-time. The odds were 23 to 1.

The match saw Yeovil lead 1-0 at half time, and Preston won the game 3-2. Safe Bet claimed he got a payout of 4,600 euros.

He did the same with three other games - Quissama versus Fluminense in Brazil, Colo Colo versus Union La Calera in Chile, and Belenenses versus Porto B in Portugal.

The Sunday Times provided the link to Safe Bet's Facebook page to the English clubs involved.

"This whole issue is disturbing," said Yeovil's media manager Adrian Hopper. After being contacted by The Sunday Times, the two English clubs issued a joint statement saying they had referred the matter to the British authorities.

"We had received no previous information regarding any suspicious circumstances regarding bets placed on the League fixture between the two clubs," their statement read. "Now it has been brought to our attention, we have referred the matter to the football authorities in the UK who will be investigating further."

Safe Bet's Facebook page has no photographs of him and he is described as "a professional gambler who bets only on fixed football matches".

The Facebook pages on his "Like" list include those of MediaCorp Channel 8, the LionsXII football team and Singapore Pools.

His list of Facebook friends included several people here but when contacted, many said they had no idea who he was or how they had ended up on his list.

Public relations executive Darren Lai, 36, said: "I have been receiving his posts on my timeline since the start of the month and I do not even know who he is.

"I kept deleting his posts but he kept tagging me. The best thing for me to do now is to 'unfriend' him."

Tech blogger and industry watcher Alfred Siew said: "If someone has gained unauthorised access to another user's account, you can inform Facebook to investigate."

As of last night, Safe Bet's Facebook page was still online.

Additional reporting by Goh Jun Yong

*US$1=0.75 euro

 

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