UK trainers targeted in $7m Indian sales scam

Karl Burke

Karl Burke: claims the scammers were convicing throughout

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

 By Jack McCarron 1:00pM 14 AUG 2016 

TRAINERS and owners in the UK and United States have been targeted in an “elaborate scam”, according to Leyburn-trainer Karl Burke.

Burke was himself a target of the scam in which trainers are contacted by a man purporting to represent wealthy Indian racehorse owner Vijay Mallya.

The man claimed to have deposited $ 7 million in a Keeneland account and said they were aiming to break into the lucrative UK and US markets.

“It was a pretty elaborate scam,” Burke said. “I was suspicious from the get go because other than the initial phone call their number was withheld.

“I was contacted by an American phone number around three or four weeks ago. I ended up exchanging about 24 phone calls with a man saying he was the personal assistant of an Indian millionaire.

“He claimed they wanted to own horses in the UK and that they wanted me to represent them at the sales and buy horses on their behalf. I’ve heard at least 12 other UK-based trainers have been targeted.”


When Burke became suspicious he contacted Declan Murray of the Irish Bloodstock Agency to inform him of the scam. Murray confirmed that a credit application had been applied for at Keeneland under the name given to Burke. He contacted Mallya’s representatives who confirmed they had no knowledge of the application.

Geoffrey Russell, director of sales at Keeneland acknowledged that an application had been made in the name of Mr Mallya.

“We contacted Mr Mallya directly regarding the application and he made it clear he had no interest in attending our September sales or indeed purchasing at the sales,” said Russell.

“The application for credit was not processed following this call.”

Burke was at one point contacted by a man pretending to be Mr Mallya.

“He was very convincing. It all seemed very genuine. I backed off a couple of times but they kept on to me. The deals they were offering were very attractive.”

The end point for Burke was when the so-called personal assistant asked Burke if they could install an application on his laptop in order to monitor his progress with the sales.

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