Everything fit. About. Every time a Russian betting fan wanted to gamble a handful of rubles on the Indian cricket league, he just had to connect to his YouTube channel, keep an eye on how the match of the day was going, and place his bet via Telegram. It was easy. Fast. More or less transparent. And as a icing on the cake, he offered the bonus of taking risks with an exotic sport.
The problem is that what bettors in Moscow or St. Petersburg did not see were real games, nor did the money they put on the table move in a real gaming circuit. On the contrary. Those who bet were victims, the players acted as mere extras and in that business there was nothing else but a ridiculous and delusional scam homemade, worthy of Esteso and Pajares.
The Razzie to the best-worst scam
If there were a Razzies awards for scams, the one that has just been dismantled by the Indian police in Gujarat would undoubtedly be nominated in the categories of main and supporting actors, special effects, sound, screenplay, soundtrack and, of course, of course, assembly and direction.
Bazas has, of course.
The hare jumped when a local agent from remote Molipur noticed that a few men gathered in the mornings and evenings in a farm in the area to play cricket matches. Put like that, it may not sound very suspicious, but the fact is that the group turned on large floodlights, all wore the equipment of some of the main teams in the Indian league and even had the instructions of a referee constantly hanging on a walkie-talkie.
Too much for a party between a few friends.
When the researchers began to investigate, they found that what the young people were actually doing was simulate matches of the Indian Cricket League. And not because a fanatical and unrestrained passion could overwhelm them. No. The matches were broadcast via YouTube so that thousands of kilometers away, in the distant and cold Russian steppe, some unsuspecting betting fans would be encouraged to gamble their rupees. The meetings, of course, were rigged so that those responsible for the scam could get the maximum possible benefit.
Unbelievable story from India today. A group of farmers and unemployed youngsters have been busted for running a fake Indian Premier League, and conning Russian punters into betting on it.
— Jordan Elgott (@JElgott) July 11, 2022
They were like that for about 14 days, until they reached what they assumed were the semifinals of their particular league imitation and swindled thousands of dollars from Russian punters. The Guardian newspaper states that at least one of those accused of orchestrating the deception had received a first installment of more than 300,000 rupees, the equivalent of more or less 3,700 euros.
How could they get it?
Well, like in good B series movies, with more desire, will and imagination than resources.
With some nose, too.
To begin with, the scam seemed to be targeting gamblers without much mastery of the Indian cricket league. Its name is different—the fake called itself the Indian Premier Cricket League; the original is Indian Premier League (IPL)—and dates and schedules don’t even match. Perhaps in an attempt to prevent the swindled from identifying the real competition and smelling the fraud, the fake league started three weeks after the original ended in May.
For the bets they used a Telegram channel and the matches were broadcast on YouTube.
Can’t stop laughing. Must hear this “commentator” pic.twitter.com/H4EcTBkJVa
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 11, 2022
As uninformed as the Russians were about Indian cricket, the big question is: How did the fraudsters manage to mimic professional matches and keep the victims unsuspecting? The IPL is, after all, a millionaire business and a true mass spectacle. In June its regulatory body sold the TV and digital broadcasting rights for $6.2 billion.
To give the hit, the scammers hired workers and unemployed, about 24 young people who dressed in professional team uniforms and paid 400 rupees per match, which does not even reach five euros. His job was basically to make the paripé look professional.
In the field, with them, there was a false referee who received the instructions that those responsible for the scam sang to him by walkie-talkie, attentive from their computers to the evolution of the Russian bets. So that the deception did not attract much attention, the false players knew some signals with which they indicated, for example, when they should throw a slow ball.
The games were played in a remote farm of Gujarat, nothing to do with professional stadiums like the MA Chidambaram, with a capacity for 50,000 spectators. Showing wide or wide shots would have set off alarm bells even for the least put on cricket, so the broadcasts were focused only on the players and accompanied with canned audio that reproduced the whistles, choruses and shouts of the public. Public, of course, who was nowhere to be found on the Gujarat farm. There were only extras there. And scammers.
Just incredible. And if they had called it the ‘Metaverse IPL’ they could have gotten a billion dollar valuation! https://t.co/62j974dL2U
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) July 11, 2022
The picture was completed with some extras that gave the streaming a certain aroma of professionalism, such as indications with the scores on the screen and even a BBC logo. In case anyone had any doubts, the band even hired an announcer who was in charge of narrating the meetings imitating Harsh Bhogleone of the most popular commenters from the country.
It sounds quirky, but it worked for a while.
In total, the Indian agents have accused about four people as being responsible for the scam, one of them worked for a time in a Moscow pub famous for gambling. There, in Russia, he says, a fellow and alleged partner in the scam suggested the idea of the fake cricket league to him.
The rest is already matter for criminal chusca chronicle.
Cover Image | Public.Resource.Org (Flickr)
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