LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has unearthed a gang involved in illegal activation of SIMs of different networks through Nadra forms.

The gang was involved in depriving the people of money through these SIMs used in seeking their bank account details and luring Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) card holders.

Acting on information that the business of illegal activation of different networks’ SIMs is being operated in Faisalabad, FIA conducted raids at different places on Monday and Tuesday and arrested six suspects including a Nadra (National Database Registration Authority) official,” FIA Assistant Director and in-charge CCRC (Faisalabad region) Rizwan Arshad told Dawn on Tuesday.

Mr Arshad said the modus operandi of the suspects was that they obtained the silicon thumb impression of the people who submitted their forms for CNICs (computerised national identity cards) with the connivance of a Nadra employee.

Six suspects would get silicon thumb impressions of CNIC seekers

“The suspects would get illegal SIMs activation on biometric devices with forged silicon thumb impressions. And subsequently use these SIMs in illegal activities of impersonation and financial scams,” he said.

During the raids, the FIA recovered seven SIMs activation devices, some 1,500 activated SIM cards of different networks, about 2,500 thumb impressions obtained from Nadra forms and three cell phones from the possession of the suspects.

Mr Rizwan said the six members of the gang, including a Nadra official, had been arrested. They have been identified as Waqas Ali, Aqib Ali, Rashid Javed, Irfan, Muhammad Waqas and Gazanfer Ali (Nadra official).

According to the FIA, the SIM activation devices and SIMs recovered from the suspect belong to three cellular companies -- Jazz, Telenor and Zong.

The agency said during investigation it has been revealed that some staffers of franchises were also involved in the scam. “We will lay hands on the franchises in the light of investigation and also write to the cellular companies to have placed a better check on them,” Mr Arshad said, adding more arrests were expected this week in this regard.

He said the FIA would receive a number of complaints related to withdrawal of cash fraudulently from their (complainants) bank accounts and BISP card holders.

“Such gangs use illegal SIMs and fraudulently obtain details of the bank accounts of their prey. Since such SIMs are issued in the name of the people who have no idea how this happens it is not easy to reach the real culprits,” Mr Rizwan commented.

A case has been registered against the six suspects under sections 3, 13, 14, 16, 17 of PECA-2016 R/w 419, 420,468, 471, 109 of PPC.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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