ATS busts illegal telephone exchange busted, 7 arrested in Mumbai

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday busted an illegal telephone exchange operated from Mumbai and arrested seven people in connection with the case. Police said, the illegal telephone exchange was in operation since the last four to five months. The arrested accused used to route international Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls through local mobile numbers between India & middle eastern countries.

Acting on a tip-off, the ATS police had formed seven teams and raided six premises- Shivaji Nagar, Masjid Bunder, Dongri, Worli, New Panvel and Kalyan on Friday. Seven people were arrested in the series of raids. The seven arrested accused have been identified as Nazim Khan (29), Mohammad Faizal Siddiqui Batliwala (40), Samir Darwez (30), Mohammad Hussain Sayyed (39), Mandar Achrekar (36), Sibtel Abdul Qadar Merchant (33) and Imtiaz Rustom Shaikh (38).

Police said, they have also seized 11 mobile phones, 513 SIM cards, three laptops, four desktop computers, eight routers and servers worth Rs 6.55 lakh. Police suspect that all 513 SIM cards were procured on fake documents, from which the VoIP calls were routed and used in India.

"Preliminary investigation has revealed that calls were mainly made from the middle eastern countries to Indian numbers. We are yet to ascertain if the calls were made to promote any anti-national activities or terrorism-related activities," said Dr Vinay Rathod, deputy commissioner of police, Maharashtra ATS.

The gang routed international VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls through local mobile phones using illegal servers. Rathod said, the preliminary loss to the national exchequer, calculated by the department of telecommunications (DoT), is around Rs 37.5 crore.

All the accused are technical experts, while some were internet service providers, others were operating call centres and cyber cafes, said police. Seven arrested accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Telegraph Act, Indian Wireless & Telegraph Act, 1933 and Indian Penal Code.

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