Police said workers masquerading as cricketers, clever camera angles and fictitious team names were all part of an elaborate fake western Indian cricket league shown on YouTube that was used to extract money from players in Russia.
Modeled after the popular Indian Premier League, a group of men in the western Indian state of Gujarat rented a field, set up cameras and asked local workers to dress up in team uniforms and play cricket.
This was then broadcast on YouTube to unsuspecting bookmakers in Russia who bet on the outcome of the matches, Achal Tyagi, a senior police officer in the Mehsan district, told Reuters on Monday.
“They had referees with walkie-talkies to referee, just like in IPL and international cricket matches. The setup was good enough to fool unsuspecting people into believing it was a real cricket league,” Mr Tyagi said. Police arrested four people in connection with the case on Friday.
Mr Tyagi said the referees told the players whether to score points or leave, depending on the instructions they were given via walkie-talkies received from the organizers, who in turn received instructions from an accomplice in Russia on the Telegram app.
Cricket betting is banned in India and four of those arrested have been charged with criminal conspiracy and gambling, local authorities said.
The IPL, the world’s richest T20 league, is the world’s most lucrative cricket competition and Australian players earn millions each year for participating in the competition.
According to a 7News report in February, Pat Cummins was paid A$1.34 million to return to the Kolkata Knight Riders.
IPL was embroiled in an illegal betting scandal in 2013 which led to a two-year suspension of its Chennai and Rajasthan franchises.
The popularity of the 10-team league can be seen in the sale of its media rights over the next five years, which netted the Indian Cricket Board a whopping $6.2 billion last month.