35 illegal VoIP telephone exchanges busted, 26 arrested

Thane: As many as 35 illegal VoIP telephone exchanges were raided and at least 26 people arrested at several locations in the Bhiwandi township here, a police officer has said.

Several high-end gadgets were seized during the operation which began early yesterday and continued till late at night, he has said.

The operation was conducted by the Crime Branch of the Thane Police.

“During the operation, 35 illegal VoIP telephone exchanges were busted in Bhiwandi and at least 26 people were arrested,” the officer, who was part of the operation, told PTI.

“On a complaint alleging extortion threats, the police traced the call to Odisha and it subsequently came to light that the call was routed via Bhiwandi, which is a base of such illegal telephone exchanges,” he has said.

The calls were handled from various locations, including the UAE and other places in the Middle East. Latest gadgets, which did not reveal the caller’s ID and eased the entire operations, were also used, the officer has said.

The system at play involved interconnecting Internet or VoIP and mobile connections, which is not permitted as per India’s telecom laws. The Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology allows a person to make voice calls using an Internet connection, instead of a regular phone line.

According to the police, these illegal telephone exchanges caused losses to the tune of several crores of rupees to the state exchequer.

While the main handlers were based in different parts of the world, the local handlers were operating from various metro cities in the country, police said.

More than 100 crime branch personnel were involved in the operation, the officer said, adding it will continue on Wednesday also.