THE MUMBAI Crime Branch Friday busted two illegal ‘telephone exchange rackets’ operating in the city, which they said were causing losses of over Rs 100 crore to the national exchequer. The two exchanges, operating from Shivaji Nagar and Trombay, would allegedly use SIM boxes to route international calls locally, and, for a commission, charge those making such calls at local rates. The fraud is known internationally as the ‘SIM box fraud’.
An officer said that on a tip-off, the first raid was carried out by unit 5 of the Mumbai Crime Branch at a Shivaji Nagar shop on Friday. There, the police found 11 SIM boxes, 182 SIM cards, antennae, routers and laptop. One Mohammad Nazim Khan (27) was arrested. Based on Khan’s interrogation, the police further arrested his friend Shams Shaikh (34), a Mankhurd resident, and Shahid Jamal (36), for their alleged involvement in the scam.
The second raid was carried out by the Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) in the Cheetah Camp area of Trombay. Here, the police found 3 SIM boxes, invertor, router and 70 SIM cards. “We arrested Noor Mohammad Shaikh (35) and Nassir Hussain (30), who were running the racket here,” a senior officer said. While the Trombay racket is suspected to have cost Rs 49.14 crore to the Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India, the one at Shivaji Nagar caused losses of at least Rs 50 crore, an officer said.
Another officer said that the fraud works by bypassing the network used normally for international calls. “As per law, these calls have to pay tariff as per international calls. The SIM box fraud masks international calls as local calls. This causes huge losses to the national exchequer.”