Australia’s latest sports betting scam

Michael Pryde, the Sydney man who presented himself as head analyst and sports predictor, claims he’d suffered “emotional damage” from the lawsuits that are lodged against him by multiple individuals for defrauding them of amounts in the millions of dollars. Pryde said the public was yet to hear his side of the story, but details from the court proceedings point to the contrary. As reported by, Pryde had targeted affluent residents of Sydney and its suburbs, asking them for upfront “investments,” which in some cases reached 6-figure amounts. 

Within two years, his scheme had more than 100 active investors who were expecting guaranteed returns from his analytical algorithm, but unbeknownst to them, he doctored bank statements, used a fake business address, and lacked a betting license.

Tall tales and trust

Pryde was able to earn the trust of wealthy individuals by promising them large returns from bets on a variety of sports games. He claimed he had found a way of predicting the scores with ineffable accuracy. According to his LinkedIn profile, Pryde’s company, Simply the Bets, founded in 2015, was the front of the operation. The “Professional Sports Investment” one-man-show claims results are “guaranteed” according to its bio on the social network.

For his previous relevant job experience, Pryde offered Champion Picks, where he allegedly worked as Head Analyst of Sports Predictor between 2013 and 2015. However, one look at the “company” makes it obvious that this was another of his fabrications. 

One of the elements that allowed the fraudster a solid footing on which to base his scheme was his alma mater. Pryde attended the prestigious St. Joseph’s College at Hunters Hill, where tuition costs $54,613 AUD per year. Thanks to this, he was able to sell his story without raising suspicion among individuals who were part of his school network and their friends. 

Ponzi scheme, not at its finest

Pryde lured his targets with bank statements in his name showing upward of $2 million AUD. These figures were enticing enough for two investors to seed betting money of more than $1 million AUD. However, Pryde’s account statements were also fraudulent, like the address of his business and companies.

Some of his clients included the son of a famous music producer, who’d given more than $70,000, a real estate agent, a lawyer, and wealthy business people, among others. They still hope to get their money back, although just a few were compensated after taking Pryde to court. 

The scheme worked like most criminal Ponzi schemes. Namely, a part of the money Pryde had taken from one investor was paid to another as “winnings” from bets that he’d made on their behalf. 

Juggling more than 100 accounts while keeping customers happy couldn’t easily be done when big investors expect big returns, and Pryde found it difficult to repay large bets. Expectedly, some individuals pressed Pryde to return their money and the case became public. 

Supreme Court steps in

Australia’s Supreme Court froze $1.3 million AUD of Michael Pryde’s assets based on charges from two individuals who couldn’t retrieve their money. Thus far, several of the many defrauded investors have been able to return the money they’d initially lost.

Considering that more than one hundred investors are in the scheme, additional civil suits are expected to emerge in due time. Whether Pryde has other unknown accounts holding the rest of the illegally obtained money, in addition to the one whose funds have been seized, is yet to be determined. 

Lessons learned

Pryde’s brazen betting investment scheme has shown that the general public is well aware of sports betting but needs to be made aware of illegal betting operations and their ways. 

Bettors should always visit legal online sportsbooks, and they should also check their license number from the issuing authority. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the regulatory body that oversees all betting sites operating on Australian territory. 

In addition to this precaution, potential depositors on sports betting sites should never trust claims about guaranteed wins. In sporting events, no win on the part of any given team is ever guaranteed. Some sites try to sell information about games that have been “fixed,” claiming to know the right score or winner ahead of time; however, these are also examples of betting fraud. 

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