To avoid duplication of identity e-KYC is implemented; however, fake SIM cards are still sold in the market.
SIM cards are still sold in the market without e-KYC verification for a higher price. This is despite the Aadhar Act 2016 mandating telecom companies to come up with the new Electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) authentication to avoid identity duplication and fraudulent activities.
A report shows that the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) Cybercrime Division discovered a ring in Haryana that was allegedly selling bogus SIM cards and e-wallet accounts to various cybercriminals networks. During the raid, the defendants allegedly utilised fraudulent paperwork to activate 5000 SIM cards.
Cyber expert Mirza Faizan Asad said, “The SIM cards sold in the market without identification play a major role in cybercrimes. The offence can be booked under Indian Telegraph Act 1885.”
Nilesh Pardesai, an executive from Finbraine, a KYC consulting company said that these kinds of activities are usually done by a group of people and they usually need an agent or a retailer who is directly or indirectly authorized to sell or activate the SIM cards. “Sometimes even staff from the telecom company are also involved in such activities. But because of effective eKYC strategies, these things are now getting controlled or even if the SIM may get activated but it can get blocked within 24 hours, as usual, the operators can identify the abnormalities with KYC for such SIM activations because of effective strategies and eKYC solutions in place,” he added.
Cyber Crime Expert and lawyer Mukesh Choudhary said, “Government needs to take strict actions and make reforms in the amendment. There were only a few reforms in three decades in the telecom sector. There should be a fear of law among telecom vendors and companies to issue SIM cards with proper regulations.”
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data shows that 18,657 cases of cybercrime have been reported in 2020.
The data from NCRB show that most cybercrime motives are Illegal Gain Revenge, Insult to modesty of women, extortion/ blackmailing, sexual exploitation, causing disrepute, inciting hate crimes against community, developing own business/ interest. The NCRB data for 2017 shows that Bengaluru reported nearly 38 percent of the cyber-crime cases registered in the country.
Pardesai said, “Majorly the telecom operators are using eKYC or Digital KYC for SIM registration to tackle this issue. In places like India, there is a Centralized Identity database UIDAI, commonly known as Aadhar or NSDL (PAN) even to verify the KYC documents for more transparency.” To prevent the duplication of SIM cards, The Department of Telecommunication has launched a portal, Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP), that allows users to check the entire phone numbers linked with their Aadhaar numbers. However, the service is only available to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh state consumers.