I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cricket: Fake Cricket League Dupes Russian Punters

Russian Bettors Lose Money on Staged Live Games

Russian bettors in multiple cities including Moscow wagered on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches through an underground network on the Telegram messaging app. Underground “local” bookies took action on a series of games all the way up to the quarter-final stages of the tournament. The hitch — the whole thing was a giant con, an entire fake cricket league staged with officials and artificial crowd noise.

“I can’t believe it’s not cricket,” probably some Russian punter somewhere after it was discovered a Gujarat village in India was in the midst of pulling off the elaborate con.

Give credit where credit is due. The con artists of this fake cricket league thought of almost everything. The organizers created fake IPL matches and even broadcast them on YouTube, cut live with five high-definition cameras.

Even better, they managed to find an exact soundalike to the actual IPL commentator Harsha Bhogle. This would be like if you saw a game being broadcast and it sounded like Al Michaels or Bob Costas was on the call. It would almost surely add to the supposed legitimacy.

The con targeted the Russian cities of Tver, Voronezh, and Moscow. However, true fans of the IPL probably should’ve known that the match they were watching, labeled as a quarterfinal, wasn’t legitimate, as the IPL season had been wrapped up for three weeks.

To actually execute the ruse, it took a mix of 21 laborers and unemployed members of the village. They would take turns wearing the jerseys Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Titans. What was actually just a cricket match among amateurs, they pumped in crowd noise and had referees.

The Bhogle soundalike helped induce the punters to news wager on the app Telegram set up by chief organizer Shoeb Davda, who is famous around those parts for taking under-the-table bets at a Russian bar.

Making matters possibly worse than just betting odds on a fake cricket match, the outcomes were all controlled. Not necessarily which team won or lost, but was based on the live bets that had been taken. Shoeb would instruct the official to inform the batsman and the bowler of the next move. The bowler would then take some off, making it easier for the batsman to accomplish the desired outcome.

According to the Times of India, the first installment of Rs 3 lakh, had just been delivered when the con artists were caught. That amounts to roughly $3,776.

While they were able to dupe a number of sports Russian punters, there might be a legitimate idea somewhere here, according to Indian billionaire businessman Anand Mahindra.

The ultimate cricket betting tip after reading this should be to know what you’re wagering on. Spend the time, and do a little research. The slightest bit of due diligence would’ve uncovered that the IPL season was over weeks ago, not in a knockout quarterfinal.

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