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Group in India Allegedly Set Up Fake Cricket League to Scam Russian Gamblers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

A fake version of the IPL cricket league was allegedly set up in Gujarat, India, in an elaborate scheme to fool Russian gamblers, according to Ashish Chauhan of the Times of India and the BBC.

Indian police have arrested four men and charged them with criminal conspiracy and gambling in connection with the hoax. Betting on cricket is illegal in the country.

Police official Bhavesh Rathod said "chief organizer" Shoeb Davda hired 21 farm laborers in the village to participate in the scheme, promising them 400 rupees ($5) per fake game. Per Chauhan, the laborers posed as players and wore the uniforms of real IPL teams—specifically the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans.

The scheme even allegedly had bogus umpires and someone imitating famous cricket announcer Harsha Bhogle on the fake broadcast, which went over YouTube on a channel called "IPL."

Chauhan reported that the alleged orchestrators accepted bets from people in the Russian cities of Tver, Voronezh and Moscow.

The bettors apparently weren't terribly familiar with the IPL schedule, which ended three weeks before the Gujarat scam. The ruse lasted long enough for the fake competition to reach the quarterfinals.

Jordan Elgott @JElgott

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for….<br><br>Footage of the Fake IPL, which somehow conned people in Russia into betting on it.<br><br>‘Chennai Fighters’ off to a solid start, pitch looking in good condition. <a href="https://t.co/XtaL5W5zli">pic.twitter.com/XtaL5W5zli</a>

The broadcast never showed a wide angle of the action, and pumped-in sound effects allegedly mimicked crowd noise through speakers.

After the Russian bettors placed bets on the matches, the fake umpire was allegedly alerted via walkie-talkie and instructed the bowler and batsman whether to hit a six, four or get an out.

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