Mumbai: In a major operation, the city police on Thursday claimed to have busted a massive SIM card racket, with the arrest of a man from south Mumbai and seizure of over 4,900 cards of various telecom companies, some of which were procured using fake documents and werev activated.

Acting on a tip-off, cops of Crime Branch (control) as well as Dongri police station raided a house in Madeel Sayad Manzil building on Wednesday and found loads of SIM cards.

"The SIM cards of top companies such as Airtel, Idea, Uninor, Cheers, Vodafone, Loop, Reliance and demo cards of Idea were found in the house. A total of 4,931 SIM cards, one laptop, four mobile phones and Rs 36,000 in cash were recovered from the possession of the accused Mohammed Aseem Razaak Turk (24)," Rakesh Sharma, senior inspector at Crime Branch (Control) told reporters.
  
The accused was arrested on Thursday and produced before a local court which remanded him in police custody till January 16.

Turk, who rented the house, and his aides, who are still at large, have been booked under section 465 (punishment for forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 420 (cheating), he said.

Of the 4,900 SIM cards recovered, 2100 belonged to Idea, he added.

The accused, who has a criminal background and earlier worked for a mobile SIM card dealer, was arrested in forgery case early this month by Tardeo police and was out on bail, police said.
    
"Some of the SIM cards were activated after submitting fake documents. For activation of the rest of the cards, the accused would have employed similar modus operandi," Sharma said.

With Turk's arrest, it appears that companies are not verifying address of the customers before the activation of cards, Sharma said adding that "We will see in which direction the probe goes. We will go deep in the case and catch all those responsible for it. Such SIM cards may fall in the hands of anti-social elements who may use them for all wrong reasons resulting in big crimes."

Explaining the modus operandi of the accused, Sharma said, "Turk would take original application forms of customers from the retailers whom he already knew. Then he would take photocopies of the original documents. For this, retailer was paid Rs 3 by Turk,".
    
"The accused would take 100 photocopies of each original application before returning them to the retailer. On these photocopies, he would paste photograph of other persons and make fake signatures," Sharma added.
    
Turk then would approach a dealer, who may be hand in glove with the accused, saying that he had hundreds of customers and he wanted SIM cards for them.
   
"Dealer would hand over the SIM cards after Turk submitted fake documents. Behind each SIM card usage, Turk was paid Rs 80 as commission by the dealer," Sharma said.
     
This way, the dealer also achieved his target of selling maximum SIM cards and got recognition from his company, Sharma said.
     
"As per rule, a SIM card should be used for at least five minutes in three months. So Turk would start recharging it and talk for five minutes. Later, he would use the portability facility," Sharma said.
      
"For example, if he had used Vodafone SIM card for sometime, he would then approach Airtel dealer saying that he has hundreds of customers who want to switch over to Airtel service. This way Airtel also got customers who switched over to its service from other company. For this also, Turk was paid commission of Rs 80 commission for each SIM card," he said, adding "This way, he earned Rs 4\5 lakh a month,".
   
Amjad Khan, secretary of Mobile Dealers Welfare Association, Mumbai said, "As per rule, the company concerned should visit the address mentioned in the customers' application form for verification. But the companies many a times do not do this to reduce their cost."
   
Sharma also said that companies do not bother to verify the address of the customer once the SIM card is activated.

(Agencies)