It’s just not Cricket

Russians aren’t known for their love of cricket. That’s probably why some Indian fraudsters were able to convince Russian players they were gambling on the ‘Indian Premier Cricket League.’

Their devious plan was ended when they were raided by Indian police. The ‘tournament’ had reached the quarter final stage by then.

Little did those betting on the supposed cricket matches know that the players were in fact farm labourers in the western state of Gujarat. They and unemployed youths were paid 400 rupees per game. They took it in turn to wear shirts that fooled viewers into believing they were playing for the Mumbai Indians, Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings.

The actual Indian Premier League had already finished its season in May. Three weeks after that came this fake league

Speaking about the discovery of the scam, Police Inspector Bhavesh Rathod said a cricket pitch had been installed. This included boundary lines and also halogen lamps. The ground had high resolution cameras and computer generated graphics to show the score on their lPL channel on YouTube.

The fraudsters used crowd noise sound effects to convince the viewers the games were being watched by thousands of supporters. Clever camera work ensured that the entire ground was not shown. That meant no images of ridiculous fans in fancy dress. Instead, they continually showed close-ups of the ‘players.’

The sound effects had in fact been downloaded from the internet. They also had someone impersonating Harsha Bhogle, one of the real Indian IPL commentators.

It’s all very similar to the plot of the movie ‘The Sting.’ The 1973 film saw a fake betting operation set up to defraud a gangster.

The Russians who were betting on the fake league had been lured into watching a Telegram channel. This would then see them contacting the fake umpire by using a walkie-talkie. The Police Inspector explained that the umpire “would signal the bowler and batsman to hit a six, four, or get out.”

Two umpires and two of the organisers were arrested. Sports betting is still illegal in the country of India. The operation was described by Rathod as “very complicated and technology-based crime.” He added that “I will have to take help from the cybercrime cell to find the mastermind.”

It was when a quarter final ‘match’ was being played that the gang were raided. There had been a tip-off about what was happening. By that stage, the fraudsters had received a first instalment of over 300,000 rupees from the Russian gamblers.