Govt Targets Cyber Criminals: DoT To Disconnect 1.8 Million SIMs
Govt Targets Cyber Criminals: DoT To Disconnect 1.8 Million SIMs 
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Govt Targets Cyber Criminals: DoT To Disconnect 1.8 Million SIMs

Outlook Money

According to a recent media report citing ‘officials’ as sources, in a move to stop cybercrime and online fraud, telecom operators are likely to disconnect a record 1.8 million or so mobile connections at once as part of the government’s first all-India mission. This development follows a thorough investigation led by various law enforcement agencies to track the misuse of mobile connections for committing cybercrime and financial fraud.

"During investigations, it was detected that in many instances, a single handset was used with thousands of mobile connections," an official privy to the details told the media organization.

On May 9, The DoT instructed telcos to disconnect 28,220 mobile handsets and re-verify over two million mobile connections misused with these handsets.

Officials said that typically, they have found that in such instances, only 10 per cent of the connections get verified and the rest get disconnected, failing re-verification. They further revealed that the disconnection would get done once the telcos complete the re-verification in 15 days. The move comes during a steady rise in the number of mobile phone-based cybercrimes in the country. The National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) said that digital financial fraud victims lost Rs 10,319 crore in 2023. Over 694,000 complaints were received in 2023, per a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

Officials noted that fraudsters typically use SIM cards of different telecom circles, and regularly change the combination of SIM and handset to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies and telcos.

"For instance, an Odisha or Assam circle SIM could be used in Delhi NCR," a second official said. "To avoid the radar, fraudsters make only a few outgoing calls and then change the SIM as too many out. going calls from the same number would get detected by telco systems."

According to an earlier investigation, telcos disconnected around two lakh SIM cards last year due to supposed involvement in cybercrimes. In another instance, the government had investigated areas such as Mewat in Haryana, and over 37,000 SIM cards were disconnected.

Co-ordinated Action: To put a check on cybercrime, the government believes that telcos must improve their detection of SIM usage patterns, especially those bought outside home circles." As part of their roaming detection system, telcos can instantly capture when a person moves out to a different circle," the second official said.

Similarly, when one handset is used to operate thousands of SIM cards, telcos can easily detect it. “If telcos take proactive measures at their end, it can help combat online fraud," the official added.”

Telecom carriers are asked to put in place a fraud management and prevention system within their networks and report any suspected subscribers.

As part of the unified license, one needs to analyze call detail records for outgoing calls made by customers, especially those making numerous outgoing calls over the day to different telephone numbers.