The Italian financial police are currently investigating a larger fraud gang. This is said to have initially founded a mailbox company in Malta and then operated several gambling sites. The focus was on players from Italy who should be recruited. The scammers did not have a license for the online gambling sites, so the offer was illegal. Nevertheless, they managed to generate a three-digit million amount.
Criminals took advantage of the land-based gambling sector
According to Italian media reports, the fraud gang used the stationary gambling venues to recruit customers for their illegal online casinos. More precisely, the gang is said to have brought several betting shops and casinos under their control in Batania, for example. As a result, the customers there were specifically referred to the illegal gambling sites. At the moment it is still questionable whether the actual bar owners cooperated voluntarily with the criminals or were put under pressure. In Italy in particular, however, the infiltration of legal gambling venues has become a lucrative source of income for various mafia groups in the past.
Subsequently, the funds of the unsuspecting players were transferred to the account of the Maltese gambling company. However, this was only a mailbox company. Those responsible were in Sicily for the entire period. In order to feed the gambling money collected into the legal economic cycle, real estate was mainly acquired in Germany and Italy. Just a few days ago we asked ourselves in an article whether the risk of money laundering is particularly high in online gambling.
Illegal gambling network generates around 600 million euros
What is particularly impressive in this case is the amount of gambling income generated by the criminal network. Over a longer period of time, the group is said to have managed to collect a total of around 600 million euros in gambling money from the unsuspecting players. Of course, the criminal network paid neither income tax nor the due betting tax of around 30 million euros on this gigantic turnover.
Police are investigating 23 suspects
In the meantime, the financial police in Italy have found out about the criminal group. According to Italian media reports, 23 suspects are currently being investigated. The list of charges is long: In addition to the operation of illegal gambling sites, the group is accused of serious fraud, money laundering and the two main culprits of serious tax fraud. Two of the main perpetrators were arrested several months ago for other crimes. The two main perpetrators are said to be related persons of the Cosa Nostra clan Santapaola-Ercolano.
The Cosa Nostra is a criminal organization that was founded in Sicily in the first half of the 19th century. Then as now, the Cosa Nostra is the most famous branch of the Mafia in Italy. The business areas of the organization include extortion, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. It is also present in many legal business areas such as healthcare, construction and gastronomy.
The Italian financial police, it seems, has succeeded in another coup against the mafia-like organizations. However, it is impressive and at the same time frightening that a criminal network was able to offer various gambling platforms in Italy over a longer period of time via a Maltese mailbox company and could have earned over half a billion euros with it. It will be interesting to see how the investigation will develop in the coming weeks and months and who will ultimately be convicted for the acts.