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Bookies Extortion Gang Caught

21 July 2004

RUSSIA -- As reported by the BBC: "Members of a Russian criminal gang which tried to blackmail British bookmakers by disabling their websites have been arrested.

"Three men were seized in Russia after a police operation involving specialist crime units from Britain, Russia and four other countries.

"The men were part of a global extortion racket which began in October.

"It targeted the websites of British and other bookmakers, causing the firms millions in lost business.

"...The gang bombarded bookmakers' computer servers with thousands of requests for information - "denial of service" attacks - designed to paralyse them and prevent other users from being able to access the sites.

"As a result, some leading betting websites ceased operating and were unavailable - sometimes for short periods but in As a result, some leading betting websites ceased operating and were unavailable - sometimes for short periods but in extreme cases, for several days.

"Companies targeted included high street bookmaking chains such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral and internet betting exchanges such as Betfair and BetDaq.

"Websites were attacked in the run-up to major sports betting events such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National and the Six Nations, when betting turnover was at its highest.

"The gang then demanded payments of up to $40,000 (£21,000) in return for stopping the attacks..."

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