As con games go, this is one for the books. Criminals set up a fake cricket league to scam gamblers in Russia. The hoax set up a false version of India’s Premier League and filmed bogus games in a farmer’s field in Gujarat.  Local people were paid five dollars a game to masquerade as players and fans. They created several fake teams and used a soundtrack to create the noise of cheering fans.

These fake games were then streamed live on YouTube to unsuspecting betting operations in Russia. For all intents and purposes, the Russians believed they were watching legitimate Premier League games. As bets were placed in Russia, accomplices would communicate with the game officials, who would direct players to score a certain number of runs. Several people in India have been arrested and charged but there’s no report on how much money was made off the scheme.

It’s another illustration of how just about anything in our world today can be copied and falsified. Increasingly, we wonder how we can tell the real from the fake. Deception like this is not new. We are warned in scripture to pay attention and watch for people who would destroy our faith. Paul routinely warned about false teachers and preachers.  For example: “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

There’s no need to panic, but we do need to be aware that the enemy will always try to confuse. It’s an old game and we need to be on our guard. Praying for discernment should be part of our regular practice. In a world where everything is getting more complex, we need to practice discernment and test the spirits. Thankfully, part of the Holy Spirit’s work is to help us in this area. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t suggest you take any bets on cricket games in Russia.