You would think, sitting down to watch some sport; whether it be football or cricket, you would notice if something was a little off, right? Especially if the match you were watching wasn’t even real. Of course you would. Well, apparently not everyone would notice. A group of conmen in India organized an entirely fake Indian Premier League (IPL), which was apparently good enough to trick Russian bettors into giving their hard-worked money away.
It’s pretty silly, and also completely hilarious. And the best part is that the group organizing the event almost got away with it – if only those pesky police hadn’t shown up.
Live from Gujarat
The elaborate scheme took place on a farm in the village of Gujarat, consisting of 21 “players” – some farm workers and some teenagers looking to make a buck. The “players” were tasked with impersonating real-life IPL players and were each paid 400 Rupees (R86) per day for their Oscar-worthy acting. Once a matchday was complete, the same farmers and teens would return the next day and wear different kits, to impersonate an entirely different team.
The matches were streamed on YouTube, with the tournament running over two weeks. The group set up a dedicated Telegram channel to solicit bets – which is eventually what happened. Russians across Tver, Moscow, and Voronezh were convinced the IPL matches they were watching were real and began placing bets. Clearly, the bettors were not big IPL fans, otherwise, they may have noticed something was off. The real IPL finished its matches in May.
Below, you can check out a match in the fake IPL – and it’s as funny as you’d expect. Unfortunately, we can’t find any that show off the “amazing” commentary impersonation, but this is good enough.
To add some authenticity to the mix, the hosts organized five halogen lights to surround the pitch. Five HD cameras were stationed around the “pitch” to make it look slightly more realistic. Of course, the cameras were set up so that the lack of a stadium and crowd wouldn’t give them away. The group did add some crowd noises to the stream, stolen from real IPL matches.
A commentator was even involved, though of course not a qualified one. The fake commentator even sounded like a popular IPL commentator Harsha Bhogle – with the real Harsha even tweeting about the scam afterward.
Can’t stop laughing. Must hear this “commentator” pic.twitter.com/H4EcTBkJVa
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 11, 2022
All of this would be completely wasted if the group behind it didn’t earn some money at the end of the day. Obviously, playing the matches fairly would detract from the money-making side of things. The matches needed to be rigged. They were.
The umpire was given the job of signaling to players exactly what they needed to do. If a six was needed, then a six happened. If a batsman needed to go out, it happened. This way, no money would be lost on the betting side of things. The Russian bettors, on the other hand, were always going to lose.
By the time the fake tournament reached the quarter-finals, the group had earned 300,000 Rupees – around R65,000. Not a bad haul. That was before the police became aware of the scam, and went in to shut it all down. Police inspector Bhavesh Rathod was given a tip-off during the quarter-final and went in to apprehend those behind the scenes. A top police official in the Mehsana District has said that four men were arrested in connection to the hoax.
Source: The Verge