Police announced Tuesday the arrest of five suspects they believe ran a gambling Web site from three continents that raked in millions of shekels in illicit revenue.
The alleged masterminds of the gambling operation are two brothers, Idan and Shai Raviv, who were brought before a Rishon Lezion court on Tuesday afternoon where their remand was extended by three days. On Friday they will be released on house arrest.
Police said the brothers ran the Web site, Internet1x2.com, out of a luxury villa in Belize, while the site's server was based in Estonia. Idan Raviv is suspected of running the Belize house from his residence in England while Shai Raviv allegedly carried out collection duties for the company in Tel Aviv.
In Belize, the gambling site employed dozens of Israelis, including female card dealers who interacted with gamblers back in Israel on the spot through webcams. The site also offered gambling on a wide range of sports, collecting the bets through credit cards supplied by participants whose money would flow directly into bank accounts held by the Raviv brothers.
The case was reportedly cracked after a long undercover operation carried out by the National Fraud Squad and the Lahav 433 Computer Crimes unit. Police said in addition to the gambling charges that the suspects could be charged with money laundering as well as a series of tax authority violations.
Police believe the brothers set up the gambling operation on three continents in order to skirt Israeli law enforcement, believing that since they were operating abroad, they couldn't be prosecuted under Israeli law. Nonetheless, prosecutors announced Tuesday that because the site catered to Israelis and allowed users to gamble from Israel, the brothers and the rest of the suspects could be tried under Israeli law.
In early November, the Israel Police and the Tax Authority busted a separate Internet gambling ring that they said had brought in over NIS 340 million in illicit revenue since it was opened in 2007.