Ex-betting trader jailed for conspiring to cheat Singapore Pools out of almost $200k

SINGAPORE - A former sports betting trader who cheated Singapore Pools out of almost $200,000 by setting up a scheme with a colleague to manipulate football odds was jailed for five years and four months on Friday.

Thomas Tong Heng Huat, 31, faced 52 charges of conspiring with Ricky Widjaja, 25, to access their employer's computer server and a programme called Margin Marker 2 in 2011 and 2012. He admitted 16 charges and had the rest taken into consideration.

A district court heard that in August 2011, the duo devised a plan to use their access to Margin Marker 2 to manipulate the odds for the 'total goals: over/under' bets for various league and international football matches.

When one was working a shift, he would ensure the odds for bets of these types were over 2.00 for a particular match during certain time windows. The other man, who was not at work, would place a bet which would be accepted by his conspirator, who would often lower the odds minutes later.

The duo would coordinate their actions by sending messages to each other, thus creating a "sure win" situation for themselves. The winning tickets would subsequently be redeemed at various Singapore Pools outlets.

Investigations showed that the modus operandi was employed for 52 football matches between August 2011 and January 2012.

The offences came to light after Singapore Pools discovered on Jan 20, 2012 that Widjaja had breached staff regulations by placing bets with Singapore Pools.

The betting amounts ranged between $12,000 and $38,000 with winnings reaching as much as $44,000.

Tong, whose sentence was backdated to Aug 22, could have been fined up to $50,000 and/or jailed for up to 10 years on each charge under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

Singapore Pools has recovered half of the money it was cheated out of.

The case against Widjaja, an Indonesian and Singapore permanent resident, is pending. He was charged together with Tong last month.