Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Crime Branch of Odisha police has unearthed a SIM box racket in Mayurbhanj district and arrested six members of an inter-state gang in this connection.

Among the arrested, Vishal Khandelwal is said to be the mastermind of the gang.

Acting on a tip-off by the Department of Telecommunications, Odisha Crime Branch sleuths raided various places at Betanati and Baripada and nabbed all the accused. Initially, one accused was apprehended and based on his inputs other accused were nabbed subsequently.

Many pre-activated SIM cards and other equipment of the illegal telephone exchange have been seized from the possession of the accused.

As per Crime Branch sources, a large number of SIMs are being used in SIM boxes to defraud people in various parts of the country. Huge number of KYC-related fraud messages were generated from these SIM boxes and sent to people for the purpose of cheating. The gang members are operating in Odisha and Bihar.

Earlier in July 2017, Odisha police had busted a similar racket in Berhampur and arrested four persons.

What is a SIM box fraud?

SIM box is a device that can house more than hundreds of SIM cards and be controlled via a computer.

SIM box fraud is among the most demanding challenges telecom operations face globally. The Fraud Loss Survey Report 2021 has pegged losses from SIM box fraud and the broader interconnect bypass fraud at $3.11 billion. 

A SIM box fraud diverts international calls to a cellular device through the internet. This device, called as a SIM box, routes the connections back into the network as local calls, using hundreds of low-cost or even unpaid SIM cards, which are often obtained with forged identities. SIM box scams thus benefit by exploiting the difference between local and international charges by paying just local rates or none at all to cell carriers after billing international rates from the source. The caller pays the high call rates, but the local telecom operator does not collect these, leading to revenue losses.

“Six persons have been arrested for their involvement in SIM box fraud in Mayurbhanj. The case should be properly investigated and the cellular network behind it should also be found out,” said cyber expert Lingaraj Sethi.