The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lid off new SIM card fraud

Ranchi, Jan. 27: Only 'nuts' will travel from the state capital to Mandar, 30 km away, in search of a BSNL SIM card and only dubious characters will buy them from hardware stores at exorbitant prices.

But an accidental discovery of two SIM cards, first blocked by people impersonating as the legitimate owner and then re-issued to the impersonators, has taken the lid off a fresh racket.

Arrest of one Maqbool Ansari last week set the ball rolling, when the police discovered that the criminal was using a cell-phone connection issued to one Sudarshan Prasad Jaiswal, a contractor at Pithoria.

Jaiswal told the police that he had already lodged a complaint with BSNL, when connectivity failed on January 18.

He had been informed by BSNL that his number had been blocked because he had lodged an FIR declaring that he had misplaced his phone.

Protesting that he had done no such thing, Jaiswal had formally applied for re-issue of the SIM card and even paid the required fee. But when he went back to collect it, he was blandly informed that the duplicate SIM card had been issued to him on January 18 itself.

Enraged, he called up the number and found Maqbool Ansari responding. He had lodged an FIR as well. Asked to act as a decoy, Jaiswal travelled to Mandar, where he was offered a SIM card for Rs 6,000.

He was also reassuringly said it belonged to an eminently respectable subscriber, medical superintendent of Ranchi's Apollo Hospital P.D. Sinha.

The doctor had contacted BSNL, only to find that the number had been blocked on supposedly his own complaint with the police.

He got in touch with senior superintendent of police. Meanwhile, Md. Naeem, who had initially purchased the doctor's connection, panicked at the repeated calls made by Sinha. He returned the card to the dubious vendor at Mandar and got back his money. Soon thereafter, Ansari was arrested and Jaiswal was asked to act as a decoy.

BSNL general manager S.N. Singh admitted to have received two similar complaints. But till Thursday, neither BSNL had lodged any complaint nor had the police taken any step to raid the shop at Mandar or arrest the culprits.

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