The masquerade taking place at a remote farm in the village of Molipur in Mehsana district reached the ‘quarter-final knockout’ stage before organizers of the ‘Indian Premier Cricket League’ were surprised by the cops.
The gang of crooks who organized “IPL” matches on a farm in a village in Gujarat accepted bets from punters in the Russian cities of Tver, Voronezh and Moscow. The cricket matches were broadcast live on a YouTube channel called “IPL” for over a fortnight.
What made the big cheat even bolder was that the fake matches started three weeks after the real IPL ended.
It took only 21 farm workers and unemployed youths from the village for the actual scam to be carried out, who alternately wore the jerseys of Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans. They even refereed, showing off a few walkie-talkies in front of five HD cameras. Crowd sound effects downloaded from the Internet made the atmosphere authentic for the audience seated in Russia.
A Meerut “commentator” with a knack for impersonating Harsha Bhogle added to the fake tournament vibe, prompting punters to wager their rubles on the Telegram channel set up by the gang.
Mehsana Police have so far arrested four people and are investigating hawala channel which was used to keep this scam alive.
“Head organizer” Shoeb Davda, who returned to Molipur after working for eight months at a notorious Russian pub to take bets, helped run the scam. “Shoeb rented Ghulam Masih’s farm and installed halogen lights there. He groomed 21 farmhands, promising them Rs 400 per game. Then he hired cameramen and bought IPL team t-shirts,” police official Bhavesh Rathod said.
Shoeb later revealed to police that while working at the Russian pub he met an Asif Mohammed, who orchestrated the scam. Asif introduced the Russian punters in the pub to the nuances of cricket.
Once back in Molipur, Shoeb teamed up with Sadiq Davda, Saqib, Saifi and Mohammed Kolu, who acted as referees in the mock IPL matches. Saqib, a resident of Meerut, volunteered to be the commentator.
The first betting installment from Russia amounting to Rs 3 lakh had just been delivered when they were caught. “Shoeb would take live bets on the Telegram channel. He would ask Kolu, the referee, on a walkie-talkie to signal the fours and sixes. Kolu communicated the same to the batsman and bowler. Acting on instructions, the bowler would throw a slow pitch, allowing the batsman to hit it for a four or a six,” Rathod said.