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Fake cricket league dupes some online bettors


The sport of cricket is a pretty big deal in India.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: Well, now four men trying to cash in on the sport's popularity have been arrested. Indian police are accusing these men of staging fixed professional cricket matches in order to dupe bettors in Russia.


OK, so here's how it worked, according to the authorities. The gang leased a dusty plot of land in western India and hired a few dozen local farmworkers to pose as athletes and umpires. They even teed up a bogus announcer to deliver play-by-play commentary and piped in fake crowd noise.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: That boisterous crowd you hear was nowhere to be seen because the gang's cameras stayed fixed on the cricket pitch as those farmworkers we mention, now in uniform, shuffled about. The gang streamed the fixed matches on YouTube and took bets through Telegram, mostly from unsuspecting Russian gamblers.

CHANG: And if you're wondering how anyone could be fooled by all of this, well, one YouTube commenter has since said, quote, "this is a remarkable re-enactment of a cricket game." And the tournament, I mean, it did reach quarterfinals before local police caught on.

SHAPIRO: There was one small detail that might have tipped off diehard fans of Indian cricket. Officials say the elaborate scam started three weeks after the real Indian Premier League action ended. So anyone paying a bit more attention to the game could have spotted the ruse. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.