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UP Police nabs SIM card retailer for selling OTPs to create fake WhatsApp accounts

Ayodhya: The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested a SIM card retailer for fraudulently acquiring a large number of SIM cards and selling OTPs to facilitate the creation of fictitious WhatsApp accounts.

The arrest was made on the basis of inputs provided by the Military Intelligence (MI) to the Faizabad Cantonment Police Station.

In the second week of the month, the Military Intelligence came to know that several suspicious-looking WhatsApp messages with unwanted contents are being received by WhatsApp users, including Army personnel from various Eastern UP based mobile numbers. 

A joint investigation was carried out by MI authorities, Ayodhya and Sultanpur Police.

After several days of analysis and ground verification, retailer Shiv Pujan Pandey was arrested by the UP Police. He hails from the Sultanpur district of Eastern UP. Pandey was arrested on Friday night.

“Shiv Pujan Pandey used a software to create WhatsApp accounts and send messages in bulk to promote services of his clients. To send bulk messages, he used to acquire a large number of WhatsApp accounts from various people. Therein, he used to get a list of mobile numbers from such sellers and use them to create WhatsApp accounts using a software.  The account creation OTPs used to go to the sellers,” said officer associated with the investigation. 

Creating fictitious WhatsApp accounts in bulk based on sold OTPs is vulnerable to exploitation by inimical groups that are desperately looking for Indian WhatsApp accounts to facilitate their organized effort towards espionage, subversion and terror-related activities in the country. 

It was found that Pandey used four mobile numbers and stayed in a rented accommodation at Inayat Nagar in Faizabad (Ayodhya). 

During the preliminary examination, Pandey confessed that he had managed to acquire more than 350 SIM cards illicitly, on the basis of existing customers with Aadhar credentials, which he used to link with the illegal mobile subscription by acquiring extra thumb impressions from them.

It is believed that while undertaking the online subscription for issuing SIM cards to genuine customers based on their Aadhar cards, he used to lure them to put an extra thumb impression on the machine and acquire extra SIM cards in their name.

The police recovered one laptop, five smartphones, eight non-smartphones, 25 Aadhar cards, two voter cards, 28 unused SIMs, 160 used SIMs etc of various telecom operators.

He has been booked under sections 419, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC/CrPC. He will be produced in court soon.

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