Cuttack: In a major achievement, the Crime Branch of Odisha Police have busted a major pre-activated SIM card racket and arrested six members of an inter-state gang including the Mastermind from Khunta area in Mayurbhanj district.
Speaking to reporters, Crime Branch IG AN Sinha identified the accused as Vishal Khandwal, who was the mastermind, Tapan Kumar Patra, Ajay Kumar Patra, Nigam Patra, Sudhansu Das and Aju Patra.
Mr.Sinha informed that police seized two pre-active SIM card boxes containing over 2,500 SIM cards of Airtel, JIO, Vodafone and BSNL telecom companies along with seven laptops and other articles.
The SIM cards seized included 1049 of Jio 1231 of Airtel, 158 of Vodafone, and 244 SIM cards of BSNL companies, he said.
The IG further said the criminals were operating their network in Khunta forest area and cheating people by sending fake KYC suspension and SIM card block messages to the people to defraud people. He said police would bring them on remand for interrogation.
Though it was not yet clear from where the accused were bringing the SIM cards, the accused however said they sourced it from Chennai, he stated.
Investigation is on to find out if more people are involved in the racket.
Police swung into action after receiving a complaint from Department of TeleCommunications, Ministry of Communications, on September 12 last, registered a case U/s 419/420/467/ 468/471/120-B/34 IPC r/w Sec 66-C/66-D of IT Act 2000 and arrested the accused on Tuesday.
The complaint alleged that a large number of SIMs are being used in SIM boxes (Machine based numbers) to defraud people in various parts of the country.
Huge number of MTNL KYC fraud SMSs are being generated from these SIM boxes and mobile numbers are operating in Bihar and Odisha, the police officials said.
After primary investigation, a police team constituted to unearth the racket proceeded to Khunta in Mayurbhanj district to locate the hideout of cyber criminals and conducted raids at Bhanda Gaon, Khunta, Betanati and Baripada in Mayurbhanj district.
The team initially apprehended one Tapas Kumar Patra and subsequently others after interrogating him. Vishal Khandelwal @ Jonti who is the mastermind behind this crime had procured a SIM box and engaged Tapas Kumar Patra for sending of messages by using pre-activated SIMs being supplied by Sudhansu Das, Nigam Patra.
They were circulating 100s of fake messages every day. After a few months Tapas Patra engaged other accused persons namely Aju Patra and Ajay Kumar Patra in the crime, they said.
Notably, the police had busted a similar racket in Berhampur in July 2017. Police had then arrested four persons for operating an illegal telephone exchange with the help of the SIM boxes at the behest of underworld don Chhota Rajan. Using the telephone exchange, Rajan’s gang members had demanded Rs 2 crore extortion from a builder in Mumbai.