Fake IPL designed to deceive Russian players

A gang of swindlers set up a fake Indian Premier League tournament in which farm workers acted as gamblers to trick Russian gamblers into a betting scam reminiscent of the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Scam.

The scammers managed to reach the quarter-finals of their so-called “Indian Premier Cricket League” before the racket was caught by the Indian police.

The tournament began three weeks after the actual conclusion of the IPL in May, police said, but that didn’t stop the gang, who they said were renting a remote farm in the western state of Gujarat.

According to Police Inspector Bhavesh Rathod, they installed a cricket pitch with “boundary lines and halogen lights”.

“In addition, the defendants installed high-resolution cameras on the ground and used computer graphics to display the results on a live screen,” he added.

The gang hired working and unemployed youths for Rs 400 ($5) a game and streamed matches live on a YouTube channel called “IPL”.

The players took turns putting on the jerseys of the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans, according to police, acting on instructions from the Russian mastermind.

Crowd noise sound effects were downloaded from the Internet, and a speaker capable of imitating one of the real Indian IPL announcers was used to give the tournament some authenticity.

At the same time, the operator made sure that the entire court was not shown, but instead, close-ups of the players were shown.

Russian players were lured into betting on a Telegram channel set up by the gang, who then alerted the fake referee on the field with walkie-talkies.

The alleged official “signaled the bowler and batsman to hit a six, a four or go,” Rathod added.

Played a “quarter-final” match “when we got a warning and broke the racket,” Rathod said.

The accused received a down payment of more than 300,000 rupees (nearly $4,000) from players in Russia, Rathod said.

The scheme has echoes of The Scam, a 1973 film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford in which a group of swindlers set up a fake betting operation to swindle a gangster.

The Indian Cricket Control Board did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.