City police to fight misuse of pre-paid mobile phone connections

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Staff Reporter

A meeting of cellular operators to be convened soon

KOCHI: The city police are working on a strategy to fight the misuse of pre-paid mobile phone connections. It has come to the notice of the police that retailers are re-selling activated pre-paid cards.

"Such bogus connections are mostly used in criminal activities or harassing women," said K. Padmakumar, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam. Initial inquiries have found that retailers often collect activated cards back from persons who want mobile connections for a short duration and then re-sell the same. "We have no mechanisms to track the second and third sales of pre-paid connections in this manner," said B. Ramakrishna, Chief Operating Officer of Idea Mobile Limited.

According to the existing mechanism, pre-paid connections could be activated only after receiving documents for validation of various parameters, including identity proof. As one official of a leading GSM mobile operator puts it, the cost of getting a customer was much more than the actual amount collected from the customer. This means that to break even, the service provider should maintain the connection active for at least a year.

This being the situation, retailers cannot cancel the activated connection after a short period and hence they buy back the activated connections. "We will be convening a meeting of operators first, then of the distributors to evolve a strategy against this trend," said Mr. Padmakumar. Compared to the GSM connections, this menace is less for CDMA connections. The reason being, one of the distributors of Reliance India Mobile puts it, the connection is given along with the phone set. Even a relatively fresh handset would not get half the original price for the customer, he said.

"We are working on the lines of evolving a system, in association with the cellular service providers, to check that the person in whose name the connection has been activated is still using it," said Mr. Padmakumar.

Till such a system comes into place, the police would have to fa ll back on the system of holding the original owner responsible for misuse of the card. "It will be assumed that the crime has been committed in connivance with the person who first activated th e pre-paid connection," P. Vijay an, City Police Commissioner.




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