SIM box rackets busted in Kerala, Noida

Hilar Mohammed Kutty who is being said to be the mastermind of the Kerala racket.

Hilar Mohammed Kutty who is being said to be the mastermind of the Kerala racket.  

In an interstate operation conducted in collaboration with the Military Intelligence, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch has busted two SIM box rackets being operated out of Kerala and Noida. Officers said both the locations are significant as Kerala has been in the news for increasing number of Islamic State (IS) recruits over the past two years, while another alleged IS module was busted in Delhi earlier this year.

A SIM box, which is capable of holding scores of cards at a time, routes international calls through a SIM card and helps the caller bypass the international calling rates. Another advantage of the SIM box is that calls made through it can not be traced or tapped and can hence be used by criminals or terrorists.

“While the rackets have caused losses running to thousands of crores of rupees to the national exchequer, the bigger concern is about the kind of people using them. With several recent examples of the IS increasing its presence in countries like India, SIM box calls can be used to plan an entire terrorist operation with authorities being none the wiser about what is brewing inside the country,” an officer with the Mumbai Police said.

According to Crime Branch officials, investigations were initiated in January after the Military Intelligence intercepted a call received by a landline number registered to an address in Mumbai.

“The call was actually made from Saudi Arabia but was reflecting in call records as a local call made from within India. We started a probe into the matter,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Santosh Rastogi said.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Crime Branch examined hundreds of call detail records and found that the same SIM cards were being used by different handsets at the same time, which was only possible to do using SIM box technology.

“We ascertained that there were two illegal telephone exchanges being run using SIM boxes, one of them in Noida and the other in Kerala. Teams were despatched to both locations,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection I) Akbar Pathan said.

On Thursday, Crime Branch teams conducted simultaneous raids at both the locations and arrested one accused, identified as Hilar Mohammed Kutty (34) from Kerala. Mr. Kutty, who is being said to be the mastermind of the Kerala racket, has allegedly been running it since December 2017.

The Crime Branch has seized five SIM boxes and 675 SIM cards from Noida and three SIM boxes and 11 SIM cards from Kerala. The SIM boxes and the laptop connected to them are being examined to check for records of the calls made through them.

Information about a third such racket has also been received during inquiries, and teams are working on this information, sources said.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 2:06:23 PM |

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