India: Police Rumble Fake ‘IPL’ Cricket League

(BBC) – Police in India have arrested a group of conmen who set up a fake version of cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and fooled gamblers in Russia.

Punters parted with more than 300,000 rupees (almost $4,000), police said.

The conmen staged the match on a farm in Gujarat, paying labourers to pose as players, sporting jerseys of real IPL teams, with a bogus umpire instructed to signal a boundary or wicket.

They even hired a man to mimic famous cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle.

Players were paid around 400 rupees ($5) per game and broadcast the matches live over a YouTube channel called IPL.

The channel would never show a wide shot of the pitch, and crowd noise sound effects were downloaded from the internet and played through a speaker.

The tournament began three weeks after the actual IPL concluded in May, police said.

Despite this, the conmen managed to reach the quarter-finals stage of their so-called “Indian Premier Cricket League” before police stopped play.

Russian gamblers placed bets on a Telegram channel set up by the gang, who then alerted the fake umpire using walkie-talkies, police inspector Bhavesh Rathod told reporters.

The fake umpire would then “signal the bowler and batsman to hit a six, four or get out”, Mr Rathod said.

Police have arrested four people in connection with the case.

Betting on cricket is illegal in India, and the suspects have been charged with criminal conspiracy and gambling, Reuters reported.