Mumbai: ATS busts telephone exchange racket, 7 held

Illegal equipment seized by the ATS. (Prashant Nadkar)

WITH THE arrest of seven persons, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday claimed to have busted an illegal telephone exchange racket.

The ATS said that the gang would route international Voice Over Internet Protocol calls by bypassing mobile and landline network companies, resulting in a loss of Rs 37.5 crore to the Department of Telecom.

The ATS conducted raids at Govandi, Masjid Bundar, Worli, Dongri, Kalyan and Panvel, leading to the arrest of seven persons. They have been identified as Nazeem Khan (29), Mohamed Faizal Siddiqui Batliwala (40), Sameer Darvej (30), Mohamed Hussain Basaratali Sayyed (39), Mandaar Acharekar (36), Sibten Abdul Kadar Merchant (33) and Imtiyaz Shaikh (38).

Deputy Commissioner of Police Vinay Rathod said, In cases of illegal telephone exchanges, (incoming and outgoing) calls are not recorded in the call records… which helps anti-national elements.

During the raids, the ATS seized a Dell server, nine SIM boxes, 513 SIM cards, three laptops, four desktops, seven wi-fi routers, Internet terminating switches and 11 cellphones. Officers said the SIM cards were procured using fake documents.

To connect its users, the voice calls from other countries are transmitted in digital data pack through a computerised system. Later, the data is transferred to voice calls, through the router and servers based in Mumbai, which are then merged with regular telephone lines, said Rathod.

The ATS said that such illegal activities have been noticed in countries like Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and India. Such telephone exchange is used by people working in the middle eastern countries to connect with their relatives at low prices. However, we are checking whether any calls related to anti-national elements were made in this manner, said Rathod.

Officers said the gang has been operating for the last five months. So far, we have been told that the department has suffered a loss of Rs 37.5 crore, said an officer.