The Sattenapalli police in Guntur district have busted a major online cricket betting racket in which hundreds of students from various States are allegedly involved.
Four bookies were taken into custody and a majority of the students had been identified, Guntur Rural SP S.V. Rajasekhara Babu told the media on Sunday.
Engineering students of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other States invested huge amounts in the ongoing IPL matches, Mr. Rajasekhara Babu said.
“Most of the punters are students, youth and traders. The racket has links to several States. As the situation is alarming, we have summoned the parents of the punters. They and their wards have been counselled and warned,” the SP said.
Pasupuleti Nagarjuna, an MBA student of Rajupalem village in Guntur district, contacted the bookies – Ankit Dwivedi, Divyang Singh and Avadeep Pratap – of Bhopal, who created a social media group for organising the betting, the SP said.
“The bookies opened a separate group and Nagarjuna joined it on March 15, 2019. He attracted many punters and earned some lakhs of rupees in the last one-and-a-half months. Nagarjuna hails from a poor family,” Mr. Rajasekhara Babu said.
The modus operandi of the gang was to invite the punters. They would join in the group by paying some amount. The bookies would give the password to the punters.
The punters paid amounts ranging between ₹5,000 and ₹25,000 and resorted to betting. The online racket had network spanning several States, the SP said. “Keeping in view their future, the police have not arrested the students. We summoned the parents of the punters and counselled them. The police will maintain a vigil on the students. As there are many social media groups organising bettings, we have alerted the parents to keep a watch on them,” Mr. Rajasekhara Babu said.
‘Accused cannot escape’
The police seized ₹22.16 lakh cash, and mobile phones and laptops from the accused. Cases had been registered against them under A.P. Gaming Act, the IT Act and other IPC Sections.
“As betting was conducted online and the investigation officers seized the bank account numbers along with their transactions, the accused cannot escape. We request the students not to spoil their lives,” the SP said.