Police in India have arrested four men in relation to a fake cricket league that duped Russian gamblers. They were lured into betting on matches staged by farm laborers.
A screenshot of the fake cricket matches which fooled Russian gamblers, but not, apparently, the Indian police. Note the patchy clumps of grass on the left. (Image: Arab News)
The extraordinary charade was broken up by authorities at a remote farm in the western state of Gujarat. This was just as the so-called “Indian Premier Cricket League” tournament was reaching its quarter-final stages.
The scammers built a cricket pitch, complete with “boundary lines and halogen lamps,” local police inspector Bhavesh Rathod told reporters Monday.
“Besides this, the accused had set up high-resolution cameras on the ground and used computer-generated graphics to display scores on a live-streaming screen,” he added.
The real Indian Premier League (IPL) concluded in May.
The Big Ruse
Farm laborers and unemployed men from the local village were paid 400 rupees (~US$5) per game. They wore jerseys of real IPL teams, such as the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Titans, according to police.
The scammers downloaded crowd-noise sound effects from the internet, which they played through a speaker. Meanwhile, the cameraman was careful to avoid showing a wide shot of the pitch. The organizers even employed an impressionist to mimic the voice of one of the IPL’s real commentators, reading accounts of the action from a script.
The matches were broadcast live on a YouTube channel called “IPL.” Meanwhile, Russian gamblers placed their bets on a Telegram channel controlled by the scammers.
The gang would instruct a phony, on-pitch umpire to signal to players how the action should unfold to best disadvantage the gamblers.
Russians Catch Cricket Bug
Police said the “chief organizer” of the group was a man named Shoeb Davda, who returned to India after a stint working at a bar in Russia. He told police it was there he met another Indian man, Asif Mohammed, who had introduced the bar’s Russian customers to the joys of gambling on Indian cricket.
While Davda traveled home, Mohammed stayed behind to organize subscriptions to the Telegram channel, according to police.
Police said the fake games had been going on for around two weeks when they were disrupted. The first installment of winnings had just been delivered, totaling around $3,800 when they swooped in on the operation.
Two phony umpires and the impressionist were among those arrested, according to police. They have been charged with gambling and criminal conspiracy.
Gambling on cricket is illegal in India.
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