Big Online Gambling Bust in US

Montana attracts the attention of major government agencies

It appears that online sports betting is a big no-no in the US, judging by the latest action conducted in Billings, Montana, which involved not just state gambling agents but the US Secret Service and the FBI as well.

The investigation, which included not so dignified activities, such as going through the defendant's rubbish for incriminating documents, resulted in the arrest of John Fischer, who pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of operating an illegal gambling enterprise before District Judge Gregory Todd this week. He has been set free without bail pending his trial.

According to the prosecution from the state Attorney General's office, Fischer operated an Internet gambling site known as Mymvpclub, linked to another site, through which the online gambling activities were managed. The sites, whose servers are in Panama, were taking illegal bets on sporting events between July 2009 and December 2011.

It appears that the whole operation was discovered thanks to a tip-off back in July 2009; from then on, Fischer was subject of an investigation, which involved retrieving evidence from his garbage, including betting ledgers and tickets, documents connected to the online betting site based in Panama, and a receipt for a $400 fund transfer sent to Nicaragua that contained the names of two people that could not be verified.

After the state gambling agent requested the assistance of the Secret Service regarding potential violations of federal law, it was revealed that Fischer had received money orders from two men with a history of illegal bookmaking.

Also, an FBI crime lab was involved, inspecting the documents and reporting that they prove the link between the online site and three illegal bets on professional and college sporting events in September, October and November of 2009, in total amount of $2,280.

Furthermore, the court records state that when Fischer's residence and property was searched in April 2010, Fischer 'readily admitted that he was conducting an illegal Internet gambling enterprise, that he was a bookie operating as a middleman in a nationwide network, and that he used to facilitate transactions with his customers.' In addition, it was found that Fischer's 2009 finances, which were also inspected, show 'at least $136,000 in possible gambling losses.'

Prior to this, back in 2002, Fischer earned himself a criminal record for a similar offence.

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