Chandigarh: In a major crackdown against cybercrime and anti-national activities, Punjab police has blocked over 1.8 lakh SIM cards that were activated using fake identities and forged documents.
In what highlights the gravity of the situation is that around 500 of these SIMs were procured under different names but using the same picture.
The fraudulent SIM cards were identified with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition Powered Solution for Telecom SIM Subscriber Verification (ASTR), a tool developed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)
DGP Gaurav Yadav said, “Strict action is being initiated against Point of Sales (PoS) distributors and agents and other persons involved in issuing SIM cards on fake IDs. In the last three days police has registered 52 FIRs under sections 420, 465, 467 and 471 of the IPC and have arrested 17 people.”
As many as 17 FIR’s have been registered in the state’s industrial epicentre Ludhiana. According to Ludhiana police one photo is used to issue 15-20 SIM cards in different names and addresses.
Divulging details, special DGP, Internal Security, R N Dhoke said that he had held multiple meetings with telecom department and telecom service providers before initiating the crackdown against distributors and agents involved in selling SIM cards on fake IDs while we are still investigating the actual user of these SIM cards.
“It has now become a major threat to security as the majority of cyber-crimes and anti-national acts are being carried out using mobile numbers subscribed on false documents or in third parties’ names,” he explained.
“We are in the process of blacklisting such agents after discussion with the telecom authorities. Special teams of the Counter Intelligence have been coordinating with the district police to zero in on SIM card retailers, who activated different mobile phone numbers with the same proof of identity,” he added.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Counter Intelligence, Rakesh Agrawal has been made the nodal officer in this regard and efforts are on to identify more such SIM cards, Dhoke said.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Police’s Cyber Crime Cell blocked almost 5 lakh fraudulent SIM cards in 2022. The number stands at 20,000 in the first quarter of 2023.
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