Bill Vlahos jailed for nine years after defrauding punters of $17.5 million

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In six years, Bill Vlahos managed to defrauded friends, family and others of $17.5 million, giving away dodgy punting advice.

Now, he’ll spend the next nine years in jail, serving six before he is eligible for parole, for ripping off 71 people in a large-scale punters club he ran between 2008 and 2013.

The Edge was promoted as a betting syndicate where punters could capitalise on Vlahos’ self-described genius for devising a mathematical formula for picking the right horse and his connection to an international betting expert, Daniel Maxwell, also known as “Max”.

But “Max” was a work of fiction and instead of laying the forecast bets he promised his members, Vlahos kept their money and used it to fund a life of luxury for himself, wife Joanne and their two children.

Bill Vlahos (left) outside court in 2016. PHOTO: JASON SOUTH

Judge Douglas Trapnell said Vlahos emailed The Edge members betting sheets on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, outlining the horses he claimed he would back at meetings in Melbourne and Sydney. On Sundays, he emailed sheets of the results of those races and details on how the punters allegedly fared.

But the sheets bore no resemblance to what Vlahos did with the money, Judge Trapnell said, as the punters’ club was essentially a Ponzi scheme, where the greater the number of participants, the more money went his way. At one point, The Edge had 1800 members.

Vlahos was in 2016 charged with more than 350 counts of fraud and was accused of misappropriating $129 million. But after weeks of negotiations between his lawyers and prosecutors in 2019, he pleaded guilty to two rolled-up counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, and admitted he defrauded 71 people out of a combined $17.5 million.

Judge Trapnell said Vlahos’ deceptions and persistent offending – which continued into 2013 even though his scheme was near collapse and police were investigating – had a devastating and traumatic impact on many.

Horses race at Melbourne’s Flemington Park. Photo: Michael Klein.

“I assess your moral culpability as being very high,” he told the 56-year-old, who watched the online sentence from prison.

“It is clear you must have known the impact your offending would have on the victims.

“Yet you continued your deceptive scheme unrelenting and unrepentant. The audaciousness of your behaviour is breathtaking.”

Judge Trapnell said there was no suggestion Ms Vlahos knew of the scam or was complicit in her husband’s crimes.

He accepted Vlahos was motivated by “sheer greed, a need for personal financial gain and a desire for self-aggrandisement”.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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