The gang behind a bogus version of cricket’s Indian Premier League set up to defraud Russian gamblers has been apprehended.
The sophisticated ruse involved the conmen hiring a farmer’s field in Gujarat and setting up cameras to film the fraudulent activities. According to allegations, laborers and local unemployed individuals were paid to pose as players and construct fictitious team names, with the players dressed in official IPL uniforms.
The games were then live streamed on YouTube to unsuspecting Russian betting companies. According to the Times of India, a local man who could do a good impression of commentator Harsha Bhogle was brought in to give credibility to the film.
“Crowd noise sound effects downloaded from the internet made the ambiance appear authentic,” the paper reported.
Achal Tyagi, the top police official in the Mehsana district, said four men have been arrested in connection with the hoax.
“They had umpires with walkie-talkie sets to officiate as they have in IPL and international cricket matches,” he said. “The setup was good enough to trick unsuspecting people into believing it was a genuine cricket league.”
Mr Tyagi claimed that the umpires were ordering players whether to score runs or get out based on instructions received on walkie-talkie sets from the organizers, who were receiving orders from an accomplice in Russia via the Telegram app.
Cricket betting is prohibited in India, and the four accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy and gambling.
In 2013, the IPL, the world’s richest T20 league, was embroiled in its own illicit betting scandal, which resulted in two-year bans for its Chennai and Rajasthan teams.
Last month, the organising Indian cricket board paid £5.2 billion for the media rights to the 10-team tournament for the next five years.