FIA busts network of illegal international gateway exchanges

Three exchanges recovered, two foreigners arrested.

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Shakeel Anjum

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber Crime Circle (CCC) Rawalpindi and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority have unearthed three illegal international gateway exchanges and seized three illegal telephone exchanges being run by influential Pakistani and some foreigners. Two foreigners have also been arrested during the seizure of these illegal exchanges.

FIA Cyber Crime Circle Deputy Director Nawaz-ul-Haq Nadeem, told ‘The News’ that these illegal exchanges inflicted a loss of Rs6 billion to the national exchequer.

He said that PTA reported to FIA that some foreigners were involved in illegal termination of international voice traffic using unauthorised Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) gateway, causing wrongful loss to the national exchequer to the tune of millions of rupees for the last six months.

He said that their modus operandi was that international or overseas calls were converted into VoIP, and by using Internet medium the calls were transmitted to Pakistan where the illegal gateway exchanges containing mobile SIMs/IMSIs, were installed.

He said that the calls were converted from VoIP to GSM and transmitted to destination telephone numbers. It appeared to the recipients that calls were coming from local mobile telephone numbers.

He said that the original overseas telephone numbers were masked. Some individuals /firms in China, Europe and USA/Canada were engaged in selling overseas calls/cards at flouted rates and were making payments to these foreign nationals into their bank accounts abroad, as their shares to run the illegal business in Pakistan.

He said that they have been using hundreds of SIMs of Mobilink, Telenor, Warid, and Zhong for the purpose. They obtained these SIMs in the name of Chinese nationals and companies operating in Pakistan (including M/s Yinghua International (Pvt) Ltd. and M/s Teamsun technology Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd).

The FIA director said that some of them did not know that their documents were being used for the procurements of the SIMs. “During investigation, one Chinese national namely Xu Kun handed over the electronic/digital equipment along-with accessories (containing 48 ports for Mobile SIMs), which were being used at Flat No. 409, Street No. 73, Sughra Tower, F-11/3, Islamabad.”

He said that on his tip-off other illegal gateway exchange was discovered. The culprits were using a novel method for its concealment. They rented a flat at Millennium Tower, F-11/3 and obtained Internet connection from M/s Nayatel Islamabad. They installed illegal gateway exchange (having capacity of 108 SIMs of mobile telephone) at Flat No. C-17, Tower B, Crown Plaza in G-11/3. Both sites were linked up with the help of radio modems.

He said that the third illegal gateway exchange (containing capacity of 144 mobile SIMs) was recovered at Flat No. 405, Street No. 73, Sughra Tower, F-11/3, Islamabad, which was operational at time of search. One Chinese national namely Liu Chang Jin was arrested on the spot.

The FIA director general said that the matter has also been referred to Interpol for initiating action against their associates abroad and freezing their accounts in various foreign banks. According to PTA estimate, the culprits caused wrongful loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs600 million for the last six months. Further investigation is under process and efforts are being made to arrest other culprits.


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