The bookies are on the prowl again but in the virtual space, using anonymity offered by messaging apps to get in touch with cricketers this IPL season.
With the credibility of the cash-rich domestic Twenty20 league taking a hit after the last year’s fixing scandal, the Indian cricket board, which saw some big shake-ups in its aftermath, has promised a clean season this time. Anti-corruption officers are travelling with the teams and a round-the-clock watch is being kept on anyone approaching the players.
But, bookies are not so easily deterred. After three players reported suspicious men approaching them during the UAE leg of the ongoing tournament, the BCCI’s anti-corruption officials have now found that bookies and fixers are using WhatsApp instant messaging service to reach players. Cricket betting is illegal in India.
A capped player, currently out of the India squad, alerted the board’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) after he was bombarded with messages from an unknown person.
It was later found that a stolen number was used to send the messages. Another player, too, reported being contacted through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is convenient for bookies. As messages are sent over the internet, they can’t be tapped by police or intelligence agencies.
It also scores over Blackberry messenger (BBM), where the receiver first needs to accept a friend request. WhatsApp allows messages to be sent to any number. “We cannot reveal much in the middle of the tournament about how we are going to deal with approaches made through messages,” an ACSU official told HT on condition of anonymity.
“We are not a policing agency at liberty to access personal data, voice samples or tap conversations. But if necessary, we can access the history of players’ messengers — WhatsApp, BBM, email or any social networking site.”