The Mumbai Police Crime Branch, which busted two illegal ‘telephone exchanges’ last week, has said the machines used by the accused were manufactured in China. Police said the main accused had been to China to receive training on how to use the illegal SIM boxes, which were later smuggled into India hidden inside amplifiers. Last Friday, the Crime Branch busted the two exchanges, one operating from a shop in Shivaji Nagar and the other from a shop in Trombay. Five persons were arrested.
Police said the accused used the SIM boxes to mask international calls as local calls and, for a price, charge the callers at local rates, causing losses of over Rs 49 crore to the Department of Telecommunication, besides the calls escaping monitoring by security agencies. The fraud is known as ‘SIM box fraud’.
In this case, majority of the calls were from Indians based in Saudi Arabia, calling up family members in India, police said.
After a tipoff from the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, the Crime Branch led by Assistant Police Inspector S Kharade raided the shops.
“During investigation, we found the SIM boxes came from China, concealed within amplifiers to evade detection,” said a police officer. “The main accused, Mohammad Nazim Khan, had been to China to receive training on operating the SIM boxes. If any problem arose in using the machines, they would be helped by their trainers in China,” the officer added.
The calls were routed through a server in the UK and diverted to India as local calls. Deputy Commissioner of Police Dilip Sawant said, “Apart from causing financial losses, there are also security concerns. The calls went unmonitored and could have been used by anti-social elements for wrongful purposes.”