Illegal SIM cards in Pakistan; how people are cheating biometric system

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The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Sindh Police busted a seven-member gang including a former Punjab Police official on Tuesday involved in the selling of illegal SIM cards in Pakistan identifying a major flaw in the current biometric system implemented across the country for SIM activation.

According to the CTD, these illegal SIM cards in Pakistan are registered under the names of innocent citizens and can be used by criminal groups and banned outfits for terror-related activities.

The organized gang was duping people into giving away their thumb impressions for cheating the biometric system which was introduced by the Pakistani government under the National Action Plan a few years back to stop misuse of technology for terrorism and criminal purposes.

How They Cheated Biometric System

The group designed an organized system involving a non-governmental organization (NGO) named Pakistan Disabled Development Council. and in its first step distributed volunteer forms among people collecting the copies of their CNICs and thumb impressions.

The fingerprints were then scanned onto their computers and cleared using special software and were later transferred onto tracing paper. later the group created stamps of the computerized fingerprints and used them to activate SIM cards through the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) system.

The activated SIM cards were being sold to criminals at very high prices in different cities across the country

The CTD also revealed that during investigation it was found that the telecom companies in the country, their franchises and other stakeholders affiliated with the business are also using different illegal channels to increase their subscribers’ base

The franchises of the telecom companies and their agents received a commission for activating illegal SIM cards in Pakistan which raises doubts regarding the role of cellular companies in curbing the menace that has taken thousands of lives by helping terrorists.

During the operation, the CTD team seized a large quantity of contraband material including six laptops, twelve mobile phone scanners, three biometric machines, 400 forms with an NGO’s insignia, two plain silicon ribbons, 1,700 SIM cards of various cellular service providers, 1,000 fingerprints imprinted on silicon ribbons, three bank scanners, duplicate CNICs of 2,600 persons, tracing paper, one computer scanner and 3,100 jackets of activated SIMs of various networks.

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