Rs 11.68 bn compensation claimed from VoIP racketeers

Kathmandu, January 7

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police said it has claimed over Rs 11.68 billion in compensation from the racketeers arrested by the law enforcement agency for operating illegal Voice over Internet Protocol.

According to CIB, 141 persons including 31 foreigners were arrested under the ‘Operation Voice Fox’ in the past seven years and charged under the Telecommunications Act-1997.

As per laws, any 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.

The VoIP racketeers are in firing line of CIB. SP Meera Chaudhary said CIB offiicials also seized 22,136 SIM cards of various telecom service providers and a huge cache of hi-tech equipment used for operating illegal call bypass centres.

The racketeers apprehended by CIB were found to have been involved in blocking the telecom service providers’ legal gateway to bypass incoming international calls, causing revenue losses to the authorised telecom companies in the country.

In its latest crackdown on the illegal call bypass centres, CIB carried out coordinated raids on two illegal VoIP centres in Koteshwor, Kathmandu and Pokhara and arrested three persons last week in connection with the telecom crime.

Rakesh Giri, 65, of Lalitpur, and Ganesh Kumar Malla, 34, Rukum were held from Kathmandu while Shiva Chandra Rokka, 28, was held from Pokhara. Giri is said to be the mastermind behind the racket and had been operating both the VoIP centres in Kathmandu and Pokhara simultaneously under his command.

Police collectively seized three 32-port GOIP gateway devices, two laptops, hard drives, two flash drives, two routers, one Digicom Media Converter, 30 sets of GSM antenna, 32 NTC SIM cards, and 80 NCell SIM cards from their Kathmandu and Pokhara bases.

Giri is a repeat offender and has already done over two-and-a-half years time in jail after being convicted of telecom crime in three instances.

Call by-passers use VoIP GSM gateway to divert international incoming calls from the official gateway by using SIM cards. The call is transferred to telecom subscribers through a GSM SIM card. The ISD displays a personal caller identity on the receiver’s mobile phone set.

CIB said the phone call received via illegal VoIP could not be traced and make it difficult for police to investigate.