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Government directs telecom operators to block 28,200 mobile handsets and re-verification of associated 20 lakh mobile connections

"This collaborative effort aims to dismantle networks of fraudsters and protect citizens from digital threats. Analysis carried out by MHA and State Police has revealed that 28,200 mobile handsets were misused in cybercrime," a statement released by The Ministry of Communications said.

Telecom companies have been ordered by the government to disable 28,200 mobile phones that were used in cybercrimes. Furthermore, it has also asked telecom companies to re-verify 2 million mobile numbers associated with these handsets. The Ministry of Communications stated that these numbers would be disconnected if the second verification is unsuccessful, in a statement. The government is combating cybercrimes by collaborating with various ministries including the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as state authorities. Notably, one device was used to run over 70 phone numbers.

The official press release released on 10th May read, “Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and State Police have joined hands for curbing the misuse of telecom resources in cyber-crime and financial frauds. This collaborative effort aims to dismantle networks of fraudsters and protect citizens from digital threats. Analysis carried out by MHA and State Police has revealed that 28,200 mobile handsets were misused in cybercrime.”

It added, “The DoT further analyzed and found that a staggering 20 lakh numbers were used with these mobile handsets. Subsequently, DoT issued directions to telecom service providers for pan India blocking of 28,200 mobile handsets and to carry out immediate re-verification of 20 lakh mobile connections linked to these mobile handsets and disconnect failing re-verification. The unified approach demonstrates a shared commitment towards public safety and to safeguard the integrity of telecommunications infrastructure and ensure a secure digital environment.”

In 2019, the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal was established by the government to allow anyone to report incidences of cyber fraud. Concerned about the increasing number of fraud and impersonation incidents targeting smartphone users, the government released an advisory in late March cautioning citizens not to accept WhatsApp calls from foreign mobile numbers. The warning also included threats of number disconnection made under DoT’s name.

The Ministry of Communications noted, “DoT has issued an advisory to citizens that calls are being received by the citizens wherein callers, in the name of DoT, are threatening that all of their mobile numbers would be disconnected or their mobile numbers are being misused in some illegal activities. The DoT has also issued an advisory about WhatsApp calls from foreign-origin mobile numbers impersonating government officials and duping people.”

According to the government, cybercriminals attempt to threaten or steal personal information through these calls to commit financial fraud and other cybercrimes. Under the Secure India project, the government has been steadfastly working to combat cyber fraud on three fronts: the national, organizational, and individual levels. This was confirmed by Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw who added that DoT has launched numerous campaigns to raise awareness.

The government introduced the Digital Intelligence Platform (DIP) a few months ago to facilitate partnership amongst stakeholders to reduce the misuse of telecom resources in financial fraud and cybercrime. The DIP, created by DoT, is a safe and comprehensive platform that facilitates coordination, information sharing, and real-time intelligence sharing amongst various stakeholders, including telcos, law enforcement, banks and financial institutions (FIs) as well as social media and identity document issuing authorities. Only stakeholders can access the DIP through secure connectivity and pertinent data is delivered according to their individual roles. Citizens cannot access the platform.

The Chakshu portal was introduced by the DoT two months ago to address complaints about telecom fraud. The government has barred 348 mobile phones nationwide, blacklisted 52 organizations implicated in sending harmful and phishing messages and identified 10,834 suspicious cell numbers for further investigation since the portal’s introduction. In addition, 1.58 lakh unique mobile device identification numbers (IMEIs) have been prohibited by the DoT because of their relation to financial fraud, cybercrimes and mobile connections obtained using bogus or falsified documentation.

According to official data, up to 30th April 30 of this year, the DoT cancelled 1.66 crore mobile connections, of which 30.14 lakh were disconnected due to user input and 53.78 lakh for exceeding the individual limit to purchase new SIM cards.

The government instructed SIM card vendors to register with telecom companies in August of last year to target dealers who were supplying phoney SIM cards. Additionally, the government no longer offers mass connection issuance and in its place, companies can now receive connections for their staff members and other uses following a rigorous know-your-customer (KYC) procedure. The dealership will be shut down and placed on a three-year blacklist if any unlawful activity is discovered. The government had previously stated that the verification procedure should be completed in a year.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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