Sydney man remorseful after ‘foolproof’ betting scheme loses $1.2 million

Despite his “foolproof” sports-betting scheme haemorrhaging money, Michael Pryde recklessly invited his friends and family to gamble their money.

In the end, he lost over $1 million of their money in the failed scheme as he tried to beat the odds and recoup his losses.

Pryde ran the Simply The Bets scheme with a promise that his self-made algorithm would bring about big wins for participants betting on golf, horse racing, basketball and baseball.

The case was heard in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court. (SMH)

“A foolproof sports betting system designed to make you big long-term profits… guaranteed,” his profile on X, previously known as Twitter, still reads.

But the profits were never guaranteed and the 32-year-old was later declared bankrupt ahead of his sentencing on Thursday for defrauding $1.2 million from 20 victims.

Inviting participants to deposit money into the scheme, he would then place bets and take 20 per cent of the winnings.

While the algorithm worked initially, his gambling became more reckless and he started losing money, Magistrate Scott Nash said at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

Between 2018 and 2023, the 32-year-old asked friends and family to join so he could use their funds to try recouping losses experienced by those who had made deposits earlier, Nash said.

“His motive was to try and repair, albeit deceptively and dishonestly, the damage to the business caused by the haemorrhaging losses it was experiencing over time,” he said.

While Pryde defrauded more than $1 million from victims, he did not use the funds to live a lavish lifestyle.

The scheme was not a sophisticated one, Nash said, pointing out that it was a straightforward gambling enterprise and not something like a managed investment scheme.

Pryde also created a fraudulent document dramatically inflating the balance he claimed he had in a Commonwealth Bank account in a doomed effort to try and postpone bankruptcy proceedings against him.

He earlier pleaded guilty to one count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage or causing disadvantage by deception and one count of using a false document to obtain a financial disadvantage.

Supported by his father in court, Pryde was sentenced to a two-year intensive corrections order, which he will serve in the community.

Nash said the Sydney man showed real signs of remorse and contrition for his actions and genuinely wanted to repay his victims.

A full-time sentence would impede Pryde’s mental health treatment for his gambling problems and prevent him from becoming a socially beneficial member of society, the magistrate said.

Pryde will have to serve 202 hours of community service and will be made to attend mental health treatment during the next two years.

He has also been ordered to repay $100,000 to his victims, the maximum allowable through NSW’s local court system.

Pryde did not say anything to waiting reporters as he left court after the sentencing.

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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