A major scam or security breach has been detected by the Meerut Police officials in Uttar Pradesh. They have found more than 13,000 (13,557 to be more precise) Vivo handsets running with the same International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The police have filed a case of fraud against the Vivo Communication Technology Co. Ltd. The case is also lodged against the operating service centers in Meerut.
It all started when a Sub-Inspector of Police in Meerut got his mobile phone exchanged and found the IMEI number of the mobile handset was different from the one that appeared on the box. The incident did not seem good to him, and he raised the issue with other senior officials in the department. Listening to this, the ADG Prashant Kumar did not find things as he sensed something wrong. Taking the action, he opened the investigation under the leadership of Prabal Kumar Pankaj (Crime Cell-In-charge of Meerut Zonal Police and Cyber Expert Vijay Kumar.
The investigation revealed serious consequences as the Police detected that more than 13,557 Vivo mobile handsets were running with the same IMEI number. The officers handling the case agree to the fact that this case of a security breach with Vivo mobile handset is very severe as it may include some more serious issues that they expect to unearth sooner. On being questioned, Mr. Harmanjit Singh, the Nodal Officer at Vivo India failed to provide a satisfactory reply to the queries of the investigating officers. Moving ahead with the criminal offense cases, the police have lodged a case under section 91Criminal Penal Code against Vivo.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has responded sharply against the scam. The authority believes that the IMEI number should be unique for all the handsets, and violating this is a severe crime against the security of the mobile handset user. It believes violating this is actually the violation of TRAI guidelines.
ADG Prabal Kumar Pankaj said, "The IMEI numbers of the mobile phones used to be similar when they first started shipping their products to India. However, the government of India later blacklisted these numbers when an issue of this regard was floored in the Parliament."
After working in a hectic manner on this issue, TAI came up with a decision on August 25, 2017, when it issued a notification to set a unique IMEI number to a particular handset and violation of that would cause term imprisonment for 3 years. Further, TRAI suggested that the same number can be used to trace the handset to block its use to stop any mishandling when the actual owners happen to lose the device, by chance or accident.
Expressing shock over the new scam, the IG of Jabalpur said, "It is very shocking indeed. We have received cases for more than 50,000 handsets." "The number can be even more than 100,000." He added.
The police in the country are trying to trace similar cases of violating IMEI numbers on other Chinese mobile handset exporters to India. The proceedings are on and the chances of discovering more such cases are very big. At ISOEH, the experts also have similar opinions as the Chinese companies are rarely interested to meet the legal parameters. The experts support TRAI for the initiatives it has taken or likely to take in the time to come to counter the threat.