Coast residents caught in $1.2m international betting scam

A NEW Zealand national is being extradited by Sunshine Coast police after it's alleged he defrauded victims of about $1.2 million in a complex betting scam.

The 48-year-old man - who can't yet be named - is accused of running the betting scam under the company names Freedom Connect and Leading Edge Strategic Group between 2013 and 2015.

Detective Senior Constable of Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch, Jonathan McBride said victims would invest "substantial" amounts of money to the companies to make sporting bets on their behalf with the promise of high returns.

It's alleged "test accounts" would simulate the amount of money invested and returned, but the victims' money was actually going to fund the accused's lavish Gold Coast lifestyle, which included leasing luxury properties, buying cars, boats and overseas holidays.

There have been 21 victims identified so far, but Det Snr Const McBride said it's believed there could be between 50-60 with some living overseas.

Although the offences were committed on the Gold Coast, the first victim to come forward was a Sunshine Coast man who lost $78,000 and as investigations continued the local CIB took the lead.

Officers have been in Christchurch since Wednesday and will arrive back tomorrow morning with the accused who fled to his home country in September 2015 when the alleged offending began to come to light.

Despite the fact the man's companies had "a number of employees", Det Snr Const McBride said because of the "complexity" of the fraud, most of them were unaware.

There's expected to be 21 charges filed against the man for each victim and he'll appear in Maroochydore Magistrates Court tomorrow afternoon.

Police urge anyone who has had contact or knowledge of Freedom Connect and Leading Edge Strategic Group to come forward.


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