An elaborate scam involving a fake cricket tournament and illegal betting was busted by the police in India, BBC reported.
Modeled Alongside the IPL
According to the report, the police in the Mehsana district of Gujarat acted on a tip-off and arrested four people for allegedly staging the fake tournament and duping bettors from three cities in Russia who wagered through the social media app Telegram.
The police officer investigating the alleged scam explained that one of the four men who had worked in a pub in Russia had contacts with people there who he had got interested in betting on cricket. According to the police, illegal betting in cricket is not a rare occurrence in the country which forbids wagering on sports.
The fake tournament managed to stage more than nine games at a remote location in Molipur village before being busted by the police. Besides arresting the four men suspected of organizing the elaborate ruse, the police seized cricket kits, cameras and speakers that were used to amplify the running commentary.
Modeled along the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL), much like the franchise-type leagues states such as Tamil Nadu have launched on their own too, the league called Century Hitters T20 featured six teams that were named after different Indian states, around two dozen locals who were paid to turn on the pitch for all the teams, two umpires, and two organizers, one of who also acted as a commentator mimicking a popular Indian cricket pundit.
The police officer investigating the case stated that he had never seen anything like this before while providing further details of the elaborate scam.
“These guys just cleared a patch of land deep inside a village and began playing a match and beaming it on YouTube to make money through gambling. Even the local villagers were not aware of this. We know very little about the Russians who were putting bets on this game,” he explained.
Streaming on YouTube
The scammers used two high-definition cameras to stream the matches on YouTube and already had 255 subscribers to their channel, while another channel on Telegram was set to collect the bets.
Organizers communicated with the umpires via walkie-talkies who would then communicate with the players to influence the desired outcome of the match while downloaded crowd sounds from the internet mixed with running commentary were blasted via speakers placed on the ground and served to create a more authentic feel for the punters as there was no audience.
The players, who got paid 400 rupees ($5) to participate in the scam received instructions from the umpires to influence the desired outcome of the match. All of them already agreed to cooperate with the police investigation.
As for the bettors, the police said that all they know is that most of them were from Moscow, Voronezh and Tver.