Days after an elaborate betting con, targeting Russian punters and involving farmers in a Gujarat village, was busted for organising a fake ‘Indian Premier League’-like tournament, a syndicate with a similar modus operandi in Uttar Pradesh was uncovered with two accused landing in police net.

The fake cricket league which went by the name “Big Boss T20 Punjab League” was held at cricket grounds in Meerut, nearly 60 kilometres from New Delhi, with organisers luring punters to bet on the matches through a mobile application “Cric Heroes.” The ‘mastermind’ of this caper ran the entire operation remotely from Russia’s capital Moscow according to police officials, with a methodology similar to the fake cricket league busted in Gujarat a few days ago. Two accused in the caper, identified as Shitab alia Shabbu and Rishabh were arrested near the Meerut bypass road by a police team.

“Ashok Chaudhary, the ‘mastermind’ used to pay Rishabh Rs 40,000- Rs50,000 per match. ‘Players’ were also paid for the matches,” said Deepak Bhuker, Superintendent of Police, Hapur.

“After analysing WhatsApp calls and messages of the arrested suspects it was found that the phone numbers were from Russia and one number was of the Pakistan series. We will further probe these numbers…these matches were being held in Meerut for the past four to five months,” said the police official.

SP Bhuker added that videos were also found of volleyball matches and plans were being hatched to start betting on these matches.

The Gujarat betting syndicate began three weeks after the real IPL matches culminated. For the fake”T-20 League” in which the gang leased a farmland in a remote village in the state and paid farmers and unemployed youth for games that were then streamed online on an Youtube Channel called ‘IPL’ to reel in Russian punters who placed bets in roubles, the Russian currency on a Telegram channel. The syndicate managed to reach the ‘quarter finals’ of the fake ‘IPL league’ when they were busted after police received a tip-off earlier this month. The setting was high tech with high-resolution cameras installed on the field, a live streaming scoreboard and even recorded crowd noise, that when streamed seemed to create an impression of a major tournament!

In Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, coordinated action by police teams of Hapur Rural and the district surveillance cell led to the arrest of two people who set up the entire thing in such a way that it resembled real matches.

Police said after investigations it was found that the “mastermind” of the racket was Ashoke Chaudhary who was in close coordination with one Asif Muhammad who ran the “league” from Russia with the help of equipment provided by Chaudhary.

Elaborating on the modus operandi of the gang, police said that the accused used to pay local boys to participate but uploaded on the app, the names of Ranji players instead of theirs.

“Accused Shitab alias Shabbu used to select the ground to play the cricket matches and his accomplice Rishabh used to upload details of local boys instead of Ranji players on the Cric Heroes app. The matches were then streamed live on YouTube where active punters placed bets. The masterminds of the racket are Ashoke Chaudhary, who is based in Russia and Asif Muhammad,” police added.

A total of Rs 15,150 in cash, 7800 Sri Lankan rupees, six mobile phones, two debit cards, two cameras, an LCD monitor, and a number of gadgets used in betting have been recovered from the two accused, police said. (ANI)