A month long investigation has revealed that the government has lost Rs 4 crore in an illegal telephone exchange which was busted in Navrangpura in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city last year as 43 lakh international calls were illegally converted into local ones using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Crime Branch officials said on Monday.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Chaitnya Mandlik, a month-long investigation has revealed that a Bangladeshi national known only as Sheriyar, who is now in the UAE, is one of the racket’s masterminds.
“We have already started the process to issue a lookout notice for Sheriyar, who is one of the masterminds behind this entire racket. This is for the first time in the country when an illegal telephone exchange running on an end-to-end communication system using SIP was busted.” said Mr Mandlik.
“Within a span of one-and-half-months, the illegal exchange converted nearly 43 lakh international calls into local GSM calls and, thereby, caused a loss of ₹ 4 crore to the government,” the DCP added.
Based on a specific tip off, a Crime Branch team along with Department of Telecom officials had raided a commercial complex in Navrangpura on December 4 and busted the illegal exchange, leading to the arrest of Sarkhej resident Tabrez Kataria from the site.
Primary investigation had revealed the accused was using SIP line and various cloud-based software and hardware as well as routers to convert VOIP calls coming from other countries into GSM or local calls, causing huge revenue loss to the country.
Days later, the city Crime Branch arrested Dwayne Pereira and his accomplice Riyaz Shaikh, both residents of Pune, Maharashtra, who are associated with a firm there that provides communication related technical support.
To earn more money, the duo took support of one Farzan Ali Qadri, a resident of Kodinar, and opened this illegal telephone exchange after acquiring SIP line and leased line in the name of Qadri’s associate Tabrez in the garb of running a call centre, said a police release.
The duo then roped in Kerala native Rafiq Babu and Bangladesh national Sheriyar, both currently in UAE, to divert international calls from UAE and other Gulf countries to this exchange and convert them into local calls.
Video calls using applications such as Whatsapp are banned in Gulf countries, due to which Indians living there have to pay ISD rates to make international calls here, and such an illegal exchange bypasses this mechanism through the use of calling cards sold by the accused, officials explained.