VoIP racket busted in Hyderabad

Four arrested while two others including kingpin at large

By Author  |  Published: 20th Nov 2019  11:42 pm
VoIP racket
VoIP file photo

Hyderabad: Four persons were arrested by the city police for allegedly running an illegal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) centre in Chandrayangutta area of the city. Two others including the prime suspect are absconding, according to police.

The racket was busted by the police following a tip-off from the Military Intelligence (MI) of the Indian Army. Counter Intelligence sleuths of the Telangana police along with the City Police tracked them down based on the reliable information. Sources said a few officials deployed in Jammu and Kashmir had received phone calls from women who communicated in Urdu. The calls were routed from a Hyderabad city-based number. However, when the Army men tried to call back on the number they found nobody was picking up the call.

Following information provided by them, the MI got into action and informed the State police, who tracked the telephone exchange to a house in Ismailnagar of Chandrayangutta. The prime suspect, Mohammed Imran, was previously arrested by the Rajendranagar police in a similar case, they said.

Gadgets, SIM cards and other equipment were seized from the offenders after raiding a house where the illegal exchange was set up. The racket was being run for last one year by the prime suspect Mohd Imran and his wife Reshma Sultana. Four others Waheed Pasha, Mohd Ahmed Pasha, Abdul Naveed and Jaffer were helping in arranging SIM cards for Imran. The police arrested Reshma, Waheed, Ahmed Pasha and Naveed while Imran and Jaffer are absconding.

Imran had procured the VoIP gadgets online and had set up the gateway at his house. “He procured close to 300 SIM cards of a particular mobile phone operator through salesmen who in turn misused the documents of people seekiing SIM cards from him,” said ACP Falakunama M A Majeed.

The police said Imran had set up a full-fledged exchange at his house with adequate power backup by arranging heavy power batteries. He had allegedly developed contacts with some persons from Middle East countries for his business and was selling the minutes in the international market. He was making big bucks, the police said.

“Generally people prefer VoIP in the illegal market as it is comparatively cheaper than regular phone calls. On the other hand, it brings in money to the racketeers,” the official said. The serious side of the rackets is that it poses a severe threat to the country’s security as the original details of the caller are terminated and substituted with the local Internet Protocol (IP) address, thus leaving the caller untraced. The police are making efforts to nab Imran and others.

VoIP calls vulnerable to security threat

The VoIP run by racketeers illegally, deprives the government of its revenue and also poses a security threat as VoIP calls are terminated and diverted to regular phone numbers.

According to a police official, VoIP enables use of the Internet as transmission media for calls by sending voice data in packets using IP rather than the traditional circuit transmission of Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

The racketeers receive the calls over the Internet and transfer that voice call to receivers in India through an illegal gateway. The system interconnects Internet/VoIP and mobile connections which are not permitted as per India’s telecom laws.

The VoIP is legal in India and several companies obtained licenses from the Department of the Telecommunications and use the VoIP legally. The government gets its revenue from the calls made through the legal VoIP gateway and for every connection a number is allotted by the department to as to ensure accountability.

The legal VoIP technology is used for web-based network such as 3G and Wi-Fi while an advanced VoLTE technology is used for its faster bandwidth and speed. Due to the efficiency of VoLTE, it is preferred over VoIP. Most modern smartphones are supporting VoLTE technology for transferring voice data.

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