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April 24, 2019

Seven men arrested for selling fraudulently-acquired SIMs to criminal and terror groups


April 24, 2019

Personnel of the Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group (TTIG) of Sindh’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed arresting seven men on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a racket of supplying fake SIMs registered in the names of innocent citizens to terrorists and criminal groups.

TTIG chief Raja Umer Khattab said the government of Pakistan had made mandatory biometrics in 2008 to issue SIMs because earlier any individual could get SIMs that terrorists and criminal groups used such fake SIMs to kidnap people for ransom and take extortion money.

He said his department also learnt through investigations that after the SIMs issued to innocent citizens were used by terrorists and criminal groups, the citizens themselves had to face investigations.

Investigations also revealed that mobile phone SIMs had nowadays become a headache for the investigations and it was due to targets given by cellular companies to franchises. Recent investigations in terrorism cases showed that the terrorists used similar types of fake SIMs, and when law enforcers checked the biometric record in one case, the SIM was found in the name of a person who lived in a Goth and had no information about it.

Khattab said they had used the technical apparatus of his department to investigate the racket. After receiving information they carried out some raids in Karachi and arrested seven suspects identified as Muhammad Rizwan Ahmed, Irfan Ashiq, Kashif Jawed, Anjum Zahoor, Muzammil Tabassum, Waqas and Muhammad Rehan. Three associates, Humair Afzal, Kamran and Gusaan, managed to escape, however, he added.

The following interrogation showed that the suspects used to sell activated SIMs to various groups through their agent by using a name of an NGO named “Pakistan Disabled Development Council Pakistan”.

The modus operandi of the racket was that they used to visit far-flung areas and Goths in Sindh and Punjab where they would trap those who were uneducated by filling up their forms and taking their fingerprints.

Afterwards, the suspects transferred the fingerprints’ data to their computers and by using the Adobe Photoshop software they cleared the samples of fingerprints and developed stamps of the fingerprints.

The suspects then used the fingerprints on SIM activation devices and activate the SIMs in the name of persons who never used a cellphone. Khattab said that after getting the bulk of SIMs activated the suspects used to sell them for handsome amounts to different criminal and terrorist groups involved in terrorism activities, including kidnappings for ransom and extortion.

These SIMs were also used by gangs involved in grey trafficking. Moreover, the gangs used to open bank accounts in the names of innocent people who had never visited any banks and made online transactions.

Khattab said that during the raid the law enforcers seized six laptops, about 1,000 fingerprints taken on silicones, 12 cellphone companies’ scanners, three HBL bank scanners, three biometric machines, 2,600 duplicate copies of CNICs, 400 forms of the NGO, eight fingerprint tracing papers, a computer scanner, an alight box for fingerprints, 2,800 active SIM jackets of a cellular company, 1,300 non-active SIMs, 200 active SIM jackets of another cellular company, 400 non-active SIMs, and 100 non-active SIMs of yet another cellular company.

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