Gang changes IMEI data, sells phones abroad too

Busted such tech-savvy racket for first time, say cops

A gang that changed the IMEI numbers of stolen high-end Android mobile phones before selling in other states has been busted.

Police claimed it was the first time in their knowledge that they have caught mobile phone thieves who changed the IMEI numbers of the phones to prevent police from tracing them.

The gang generally sold the stolen phones in Uttarakhand and Nepal.  While phones being sold in Nepal did not require the IMEI numbers to be changed, those meant for sale within India were tampered with.

All this was happening at the popular mobile market in central Delhi’s Gaffar Market, police said in a release on Sunday.

The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity or IMEI number is a unique number associated with every mobile phone.

Any stolen phone’s access to network can be restricted and the phone rendered practically useless for communication by providing its IMEI number to the authorities.


“But the culprits are using various softwares to change the programming value of the tool, when a new SIM card is inserted into the phone. Once that is done, the phone is a given a new IMEI number which makes it no more possible to trace or restrict the stolen phone,” a senior police officer told Deccan Herald.

Phone mechanics indulging in changing the IMEI numbers have been active in Gaffar Market, but they are unwilling to oblige small-time phone thieves to reduce the risk of getting busted, the officer said.


“Only if someone comes up with 50-100 phones, do they take up the work. Changing the IMEI number costs Rs 500 per phone on an average,” said the officer.

The busted gang would buy mobile phones from small-time thieves across Delhi and then get the IMEI numbers changed with the help of their associates in Gaffar Market.
The accused Vipin Kumar and Sudhir found their main markets for such phones in Uttarakhand. Other phones they sold in Nepal, said police.


The arrests were made at Anand Vihar bus stand on Saturday when Vipin, 42, was allegedly handing over a bag containing stolen phones to his accomplice Sudhir, 38.
The bag was found to be containing 35 high-end mobile phones.

They were all stolen from Delhi, alleged police. Police said they are trying to connect the phones with the FIRs registered in Delhi in a bid to return them to their owners.

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