COIMBATORE: Instant loan app providers have now started using SIM boxes to convert internet calls originating from foreign countries to land on mobile phones. All these are being done to favour international cyber criminals operating fake quick loan apps and siphoning money from Indian citizens.
The Tiruppur District (Rural) Police exposed an illegal telephone exchange for foreign-based instant loan apps and arrested five people from Kerala.
Crackdown Exposed SIM Box Usage
Investigators discovered that the accused employed 11 SIM boxes, a device capable of housing a large number of SIM cards and routing international calls to local numbers. They also used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to route internet calls and intimidate naive loan applicants.
What Is SIM BOX
A SIM box (also known as a “grey router”) is a device that allows users to connect multiple SIM cards to a single device, such as a router, and route calls through the internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. Companies and individuals commonly use SIM boxes to save money on international phone calls, but they can also be misused to engage in illegal activities such as bypassing international calling rates, evading law enforcement, and committing fraud. Additionally, it can also be used for illegal activities such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities.
A special police team apprehended the five people who conducted the illicit phone exchange. Mohammed Askar, 24, and Mohammed Shafi, 36, of Kozhikode district; Mohammed Saleem, 37, M. Aneeshmon, 33; and S. Ashraf, 46, of Malappuram district were identified. They were detained with 500 SIM cards, modems, PCs, and other devices.
International Operators Behind Instant Loan Apps
The police initiated the probe when a woman from Pongupalayam, near Perumanallur, submitted a complaint. According to the allegation, the woman obtained a Rs 3,000 loan using the Paisa Home app on December 15. After she paid the debt, she began receiving several SMSs advertising new loans.
According to the police, the woman also obtained Rs 15,000 via four lending applications on December 28: Speed Loan (Nigeria), Candy Pay (Indonesia), Easy Loan (Nigeria), and Lucky Money (China). After receiving many SMSs demanding monetary repayment and vulgar messages to her WhatsApp number, the woman went the Tiruppur district cybercrime police station.
The police initiated an inquiry after filing a case under Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing surrender of property) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 D (punishment for cheating by personation utilising computer resources) of the Information Technology Act.
Superintendent of Police Shashank Sai formed a special team led by Additional SP Krishnasamy and cybercrime inspector Chithra Devi. The crew tracked the accused down to Khaderpet in Tiruppur, where they ran an illegal phone exchange from their rental rooms.
The investigations discovered that the guilty largely assisted lending apps headquartered abroad in converting online calls for commission. According to the police, Saleem was involved in a case reported by the Kottiyam police in Kerala, and Aneeshmon was involved in a case registered by the Kanathur police.
“We seized 11 SIM cards from them. The SIM boxes converted internet calls to GSM calls. As a result, tracing the source of the calls was difficult. The five people assisted the four foreign-based lending apps in converting internet calls to GSM calls via SIM boxes. They were compensated by the loan app operators. They utilised the iTel app and the VOS VOIP app to conceal their identities,” Tirupur district superintendent of police G Shashank Sai explained.
He also stated that the telecom operators would not allow the gateway to convert internet calls to GSM calls. The five-member group had been operating illegally for some months.
“We have seized 500 SIM cards belonging to a particular mobile operator from the arrested people. They converted internet calls to GSM calls using the SIM cards in the SIM boxes. “We requested that the private cell provider provide the consumer application details so that we could determine where the gang purchased all 500 SIM cards,” stated SP G Shashank Sai.
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