Four unemployed men from the western Indian state of Gujarat established a fake cricket league and with the help of a friend working in Moscow lured unsuspecting Russians to bet on the rigged matches.
The four men’s associate working in a pub in Moscow enticed locals to bet on the rigged games via a Telegram app channel. The operation soon expanded to Tver and Voronezh.
The gang recruited local farm workers to act as the players, whom they paid 400 rupees (approx. EUR 5) per game. One of the scammers acted as the umpire, by far more enthusiastic than the clumsily moving “players” he was instructing on what to do next, while another served as the sports commentator. The static camera showed only a small part of the brown and dusty playing field, with a mat placed in the middle. Speakers were put around the playing field to simulate cheering crowds. There were no closeups on the players' faces, to minimise the chance of anyone noticing that in each match the same people would play as a different “team”.
The games were streamed live on the “Century Hitters T20” league’s YouTube channel, which had only 255 subscribers. In spite of that and all the other red flags, the victims appeared none the wiser.
According to Indian law, gambling on sports outcomes is illegal, with the exception of horse races. And the enterprising Gujaratis would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling cops, who broke up their operation after the local police were tipped off.
“I have never seen a scam like this. These guys just cleared a patch of land deep inside a village and began playing a match and beaming it on YouTube to make money through gambling,” said Bhavesh Rathod of the Gujarat Police. “Even the local villagers were not aware of this. We know very little about the Russians who were putting bets on this game.”
Century Hitters T20, little did we know ye. If someone did not snitch the league would have seen semi-finals. This is why we can’t have nice things…