Racketeers controlling illegal VoIP call centres in Nepal from abroad

Kathmandu, July 28

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police raided two Voice Over Internet Protocol call centres in Chitwan and Kathmandu, and arrested as many persons for their involvement in telecommunications crime on July 23.

CIB first carried out the raid in an illegal VoIP centre in Bharatpur of Chitwan and held Bijay Gurung, 31, of Rupandehi and Sunil Adhikari, 22, of Chitwan with a huge cache of equipment used for blocking the telecom service providers’ legal gateway to bypass incoming international calls. Based on their statement, CIB busted another VoIP centre operating from Chandragiri Municipality-10, Kathmandu.

Following investigation, CIB officials found that the main perpetrator of the VoIP was Bangladeshi national MirzaShahirAlamTurzo, 34, currently residing near Tokyo Square Shopping Complex, Dhaka. The main server of the illegal VoIP call centres in Chitwan and Kathmandu was being operated by Turzo from Dhaka. Gurung and Adhikar worked as agents of the Bangladeshi racketeer.

SP Krishnahari Sharma, CIB spokesperson, said illegal VoIP call centres were in operation in various places of Chitwan, Kathmandu and Butwal under the Bangladeshi national’s direct supervision. CIB are searching for other such call centres. On Thursday, CIB busted another VoIP call centre in Tilottama Municipality-8, Rupandehi and arrested Ram Prasad Neupane, 28, a local. He was found operating the call centre from his own house. In a shocking revelation, SP Sharma said two Pakistani nationals by name of Soyab Khan and Muneer Bakhsh were masterminds of the racketeer.

“Neupane met Khan and Bakhs on Facebook and befriended them. They decided to operate a VoIP call centre in Nepal and Khan sent necessary equipment from Hong Kong through DHL some three months back. Khan, who mostly lives in Karachi, used to give direction to Neupane about the operation of VoIP,” SP Sharma informed. VoIP can be operated from anywhere, provided the operators have necessary equipment and have access to the Internet.

CIB has busted as many as 106 illegal VoIP centres across the country and arrested 164 person since it launched a crackdown in 2010. Of the arrestees, 34 are foreigners, including Bangladeshis, Chinese, Indians and Pakistanis. According to CIB, all of them were charged under the Telecommunications Act-1997 and were produced before the concerned district courts. Around Rs 11.91 billion has been claimed in compensation from the accused on the basis of loss caused to the telecom service providers.  As per the law, a person who intentionally causes adverse effect, damage or any other loss to the telecommunication structure of the country is liable to a fine equal to the loss or five years in jail or both.