The Mumbai Crime Branch on Saturday arrested a 38-year-old man from Govandi for allegedly running an illegal telephone network to put through international calls. The Crime Branch conducted raids following intelligence inputs by Jammu & Kashmir’s Military Intelligence (MI) on illegal calls being made to the Army’s civil exchange seeking sensitive information like deployment. Police said the benefit of the illegal network known as ‘SIM box’ is that it masks an international call by showing it as a local number.
Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Akbar Pathan said, “Based on intelligence reports, we raided the Shivaji Nagar residence of Sameer Alwari and found five SIM boxes in his house. He has been arrested in the past as well for running a SIM box.”
Pathan said the parallel telephone exchange had been used to make calls to defence establishments in J&K from outside the country through two specific numbers.
An officer said the callers, posing as Indians, had sought information about defence establishments and Indian troop movements in Ladakh.
Sources said the reason why SIM boxes would have been used to route these calls was that they were not using any legitimate mobile network service provider and, hence, would not be monitored. Second, and more important, even though the call was made from another country, the person receiving the call would have seen an Indian number flashing, they added.
“The way it works is that a Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls made from outside the country are converted into GSM calls using the SIM box. Hence, when a person gets the call, it shows a local number,” Pathan added.
He also said it was after the J&K MI received information about the calls from the two Indian numbers, they found that the calls had originated from a location in Mumbai following which the Crime Branch was alerted.
According to police, after raiding the residence of the accused, they found SIM boxes with pre-attached SIM cards attached to the underside of the computer table. “We found a total of five SIM boxes, four of which were in working condition. In addition, we found 223 SIM cards from the residence,” Pathan said.
Police said they had found from call records of Alwari that he too had made some international calls. “We are investigating the extent of the knowledge that he had about the SIM box being used for anti-national activities. Either way, it is illegal to run a parallel mobile network,” the officer said.
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