Russian gamblers were duped by a fake version of Indian Premier League cricket, The Times of India reported. A group of farm workers pretending to be players reached the quarterfinal stage before authorities figured out the con and arrested the organizers.
The elaborate scheme took place in a Gujarat village. Per the report, lead organizer Shoeb Davda made contacts when he worked in a Russian pub for eight months. He hired 21 people to create fake rosters and play fake games. They were promised 400 rupees — just over $5 — per match. These “players” wore uniforms representing the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans, which are real teams.
The scam was very well organized. There were also fake umpires with walkie-talkies that helped influence the outcome of the game, as well as fake crowd noises to make everything more convincing on the YouTube livestream.
“Shoeb would take live bets over the Telegram channel. He would instruct Kolu, the umpire, over a walkie-talkie to signal fours and sixes,” police official Bhavesh Rathod told The Times of India.
“Kolu communicated the same to the batsman and the bowler. Acting on the instructions, the bowler would deliver a slow ball, enabling the batsman to hit it for four or a six.”
The broadcast even included the voice of someone imitating Harsha Bhogle, a well known Indian cricket commentator and journalist. Bhogle himself was amused when he saw the news.
The Times of India reported that the first installment of bets, 300,000 Rupees or about $3,775, had just arrived when the authorities shut down the operation.
According to BBC, four people have already been arrested, and that the “players” had agreed to co-operate with the police. Most of the gamblers seemed to come from the cities of Moscow, Voronezh and Tver.
“I have never seen a scam like this. 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,” Rathod told BBC. “Even the local villagers were not aware of this. We know very little about the Russians who were putting bets on this game.”