India’s got talent, and a few villagers have demonstrated just that by tricking Russian gamblers into betting on a fake IPL tournament. The match had even reached the “knockout quarterfinal” stage, before being busted by the cops.
According to a report by The Times Of India, a gang residing in the Molipur village of Mehsana district in Gujarat organised “IPL” matches at a farm. The tricksters then started accepting bets from gamblers residing in the Russian cities of Moscow, Tver, and Voronezh. Interestingly, the fake IPL commenced three weeks after the real IPL was concluded.
The masterminds behind the scam “employed” 21 farmers from the village, who were made to wear jerseys of the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Titans. The “match” even included “umpires” with walkie talkies. Popular cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle was also roped in, albeit in the form of a trickster from Meerut mimicking Bhogle. Noises made by crowds were downloaded from the internet and played during “matches” to give it a feeling of authenticity. The gang also set up a Telegram channel for taking bets.
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The man who organised the con was identified as Shoeb Davda, who came back to his village at Molipur after an eight-month stint in a Russian pub which was known for gambling. His experience at the pub helped devise the plan to dupe Russian gamblers. Police official Bhavesh Rathod said, “Shoeb hired the farm of Ghulam Masih and installed halogen lights there. He readied 21 farm labourers, promising them ₹400 per match. Next, he hired cameramen and bought t-shirts of IPL teams.”
Davda revealed to the police that a man named Asif Mohammed, who he met at the Russian pub, was the mastermind behind the scam. It was Mohammed who explained the basics of cricket to the Russian gamblers. Davda returned to Molipur and roped in Sadiq Davda, Saqib, Saifi, and Mohammed Kolu as the “umpires” of the matches.
Rathod explained how the fake IPL tournaments went down, “Shoeb would take live bets over the Telegram channel. He would instruct Kolu, the umpire, over a walkie-talkie to signal fours and sixes. Kolu communicated the same to the batsman and the bowler. Acting on the instructions, the bowler would deliver a slow ball, enabling the batsman to hit it for a four or a six.”
The gang of tricksters managed to collect around ₹3 lakh from their enterprising scheme which spanned two weeks, before being nabbed by the cops.