ATS arrests point man in phone exchange scam

Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra on Thursday arrested a 28-year-old man, who was allegedly a key member of an illegal telephone exchange racket busted last month, from Hyderabad, an official said.

As par investigation till now, the racket has caused nearly Rs 150 crore of revenue loss to the Union government, he said. The ATS had busted the illegal telephone exchange racket last month and arrested seven persons from Mumbai and surrounding areas, he said.

During interrogation of the arrested accused, it came to light that 28-year-old Rafique Shaikh was handling all the operations and had fled with some important machineries used to run the illegal telephone exchange, the official said.

Accordingly, multiple teams were sent at various states to trace Shaikh. Acting on a specific tip-off, the police tracked him down in Hyderabad, from where Shaikh was nabbed and brought to the city, the official said.

During investigation, it also surfaced that Shaikh was wanted in a similar offence in 2017, which was investigated by the Mumbai Police's Crime Branch, he said. The police have recovered a large number of items and equipment used in running the exchange.

These include 6 SIMPOOL machines used for illegal calls, 7 servers of different companies used for smooth trafficking of calls, 2,126 SIM cards, 46 SIM boxes used to route international calls, 33 mobile phones, four desktops, 8 laptops and hard drives, he said.

The racketeers used to route international Voice Over Internet Protocol calls through local mobile phones using illegal servers, which caused a loss of more than Rs 150 crore to the Union government.

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