Gang used clever modus operandi to remain track-proof

“To alter the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, the gang had ordered a special software from Singapore. The software acted like a portal and gave them access to the mobile handset company’s database which contained the IMEI codes. It is just like hacking,” said the police official investigating the case.

The three accused have been identified as Mohammed Saleem (28), Amit Gulati (30) and Zahir Khan (32). All of them are residents of Delhi. The police also recovered around 211 mobile phones from their possession. In all the recovered mobile phones, the IMEI numbers failed to match with the one
which is printed on a sticker and pasted inside the handsets, said a senior police official.

IMEI is a unique 15-digit code used to identify valid devices and therefore can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing a mobile network and later track them down.

A few years ago, Zahir Khan was a teacher at a private school in north-east Delhi’s Mustafabad area. Later, he started his own coaching center by the name of ‘Excel’ but the business failed, after which he joined Salim and Gulati.

“Zahir is the IT expert of  the gang. Saleem and Gulati brought the stolen phones to his house, and he would return the whole bunch the next day. When the phone was sold, mostly through Gulati’s second-hand mobile shop in Karol Bagh’s Gaffar Market, Zahir would take his cut,” said the investigating officer.

He further said that Saleem acted as the arm of the gang. He did not execute thefts himself, but had contacts with most of the pick-pocket gangs which operated in Delhi Metro (and around 95 per cent of these gangs use women, who allegedly board crowded unreserved compartments and commit thefts).

“When we started investigating rampant mobile theft taking place in Delhi, it emerged that most of the stolen phones were re-sold in Nepal. However, availability of the customised IMEI software imported from Singapore, made it possible for the gangs to sell the phones in Delhi-NCR without any fear of getting caught,” said a police official. Now the police is trying to track the Singapore-based source, which sells the software in order to track other such gangs operating in Delhi, the official added.
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