Two VoIP call centres busted, suspects held

Kathmandu, May 8

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police raided two hi-tech Voice Over Internet Protocol call centres in Sinamangal-based Hotel Stargaze and in a Tokha-based house, and arrested two suspects for their involvement in the telecommunications crime yesterday.

Those arrested by a team of ‘Operation Voice Fox’ of CIB are Vivek Shukla, 24, of Madhya Pradesh, India and Lal Bahadur Magrati, 25, of Sindhuli. They had rented a room in a hotel and a private house to run the illegal call centre.

SP Meera Chaudhary, CIB spokesperson, said police also seized VoIP gateway devices, modem and many other equipment used for bypassing international calls from the room during the raid. “Magrati is a repeat offender and was recently released from jail after serving 18 months for a telecommunications crime. Shukla, the Indian national, operated an illegal VoIP in Bardiya for few months before shifting to Kathmandu,” she informed.

The racketeers were found to have been involved in blocking the telecom service providers’ legal gateway to bypass incoming international calls, causing revenue losses to authorised telecom companies. CIB said the phone calls received via illegal VoIP could not be traced, making it difficult for police to investigate crimes.

As many as 158 persons including 32 foreigners — from 98 places — have been arrested under the ‘Operation Voice Fox’ in the past eight 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.