Bill Vlahos stole $17.5 million from 71 horse racing punters through an elaborate scam involving a fictional formula for winning big and a made-up international betting expert called “Maxwell”.
The 56-year-old blew his money on business class flights, glitzy hotels, fancy cars and a jacuzzi, with no money ever returned to his victims.
But the high life is over for Vlahos, who on Friday faced the Victorian County Court and was jailed for a total of nine years.
The former counsellor-turned-scammer had pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception after stealing $17.5 million from 2008 to 2013.
Vlahos’s victims thought they were cashing in on races in Melbourne and Sydney through his punting club The Edge, which involved him sending out bi-weekly emails with meaningless betting sheets.
One punter believed he was making a 33.5 per cent return on investment.
Another man poured $800,000 into the scheme. And when it all unravelled, he was forced to sell the family home to pay off his debts.
Judge Douglas Trapnell said Vlahos had effectively been running a Ponzi scheme, with money from new punters either consumed by the father-of-two or used to pay off people who had previously invested in the “fictional” betting system.
He also invented an international betting agent called Daniel Maxwell, whom he referred to as “Max” or “Maxwell”, to help ease any of the concerns his potential victims might have had.
“Through your pernicious greed and insatiable desire for…