The Mumbai police raided 4 illegal telephone exchanges and arrested 3 persons on Monday. According to police officials, a police Sub-Inspector on receiving information about the rackets alerted his superior officers. The police simultaneously conducted raids at four locations in the Kausa area in Mumbra, leading to three arrests. These illegal telephone exchanges routed overseas calls through SIM boxes to Indian phones.
The arrested included Shehzad Shiekh aged 35, Shakeel Sheikh aged 40 and Halim Khan aged 37, while a fourth person, Wasimullah Sheikh, is still wanted. The police said that all the four arrested were running separate SIM box rackets in rented flats in Kausa. The police have seized 19 SIM boxes, 37 Wi-Fi routers, 291 SIM cards, laptop computers and other equipment.
As per the inquiries conducted it came to light that the rackets were operational for the past one year, and inquiries till now suggest that calls from countries in the Middle East were being routed to local numbers. The application known as Hello Gulf was being used by the accused which is not permitted under Indian telecom laws.
Additional Commissioner of Police Mr. Madhukar Pandey, Thane Police, said that the app generates user IDs and passwords, which are used to connect calls through the SIM boxes.
Mr. Pandey added that as the calls routed through SIM boxes are untraceable and they pose a huge risk to national security.
Mr. Pandey said that such rackets also cause huge revenue losses to cellular service providers and the national exchequer. The losses caused are still being calculated with assistance from the Department of Telecommunications. Inquiries are also under way to find out if the rackets provided assistance to any criminal activities, including possible underworld connections.
The police also recovered a pistol and five live rounds of ammunition from Mr. Shehzad after he confessed to the possession of illegal arms during his interrogation. The police have also charged him under the Arms Act.