Bookies can make a kill by thinking inside the box. The special task force of Uttar Pradesh, which busted a betting ring at an upscale residential society in Noida last Friday, discovered that it was an inventive, locally-built device that kept the gambling network going.
The said device, sewed up into a briefcase by an electrician from Najafgarh in south west Delhi, could interconnect up to 32 callers to place their bets simultaneously during a live match, investigators told Mail Today.
"The suitcase connected all the phones in such a way that the bookie's voice would be audible on all phones at the same time. The phone lines of gamblers were connected to a speaker beneath the suitcase to record their stakes," said Raj Kumar Mishra, DSP Noida-STF. "The gang was using the briefcase for last one year. The set-up gave them high mobility and allowed early wrap-up in case of an emergency."
The briefcase-linked device came in two sizes: One that connected 16 phones and was available for Rs 27,000 and the other with 32-handset connectivity costing Rs 50,000. "All the mobile phones used by them were basic Nokia bar-phone. For, these vantage handsets have better battery life and audio quality," investigators said.
Interestingly, although police have closed in on the local "Najafgarh talent" who had put in place the briefcase, they can't arrest him, for making a customised electronic equipment is not a crime. Investigators said they have been trying to extract details from the electrician. Bookies would carry several phones around them and employed multiple staff to attend calls from punters and recording their bets. The "briefcase" simplified this complex system.
Investigators said the portable device allowed the bookies easy mobility, as they could easily check into a room with a TV to operate with secrecy. The bookies arrested in Noida too had taken the flat on rent.
"Earlier, such a set up could be installed in wardrobe. Briefcase gave the bookies high mobility. One day it could be installed in a hotel room and another day at a rented apartment," a bookie told MAIL TODAY, requesting anonymity. He also disclosed that to avoid coming on police radar, most of them now use encrypted chat platform where payments are made in bitcoins.
STF DSP Mishra said punters in contact with the gang were given one of the mobile numbers. "The gang continuously received updated rates on each ball of the match from an international website, www.betfair.com and these were promptly communicated to all bookies connected to him," he said. The bookies would collect the money the next day from the people who lost. "Only close members were gambling with the gang. No random person could contact or place a bet with them. An entry was possible only if an existing member took the guarantee of new entrant," Mishra said, adding during each IPL match, the Noidabased gang made Rs 30-40 lakh.
Police suspect their total earning from this season would be around Rs 20 crore. The mastermind of the gang has been identified as Rohit Gupta, a resident of Kailash Puri in Bulandshahr.
Gupta had bought a flat for Rs 1.7 crore in ATS Village, Sector 93 A, in the name of his wife. He also bought a BMW car worth Rs 38 lakh and a Harley Davidson bike worth Rs 7 lakh. The other six accused have been identified as Ankur Govil, Neeraj Gupta, Samuel Jacob, Rahul Chana, Akash Vij and Ashok Garg. The accused had created a network in Goa, Delhi and other NCR cities.