The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has reportedly seized over 2000 biometrically verified SIMs, that were being used for fraud and grey trafficking, from eight suspects in Punjab.
The officials called for the government to consider the matter as a serious one, as the verified SIMs can be used to perpetrate subversive activities in the country.
Notably, the misuse of biometric verified SIMs has been going unchecked since their introduction four years ago. The government had introduced the Biometric Verification System (BVS) under the National Action Plan.
The persistent misuse of these SIMs highlights the shortcomings of the telecom operators and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The BVS was introduced in the wake of the massacre in Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014 that had taken the lives of more than 150 individuals.
The incident had shaken the entire country and brought masses to strongly demand a preventative plan and punitive action against the culprits.
Nevertheless, it has surfaced now that even the BVS is not proving to be efficient, given that there is no heed being paid to the issue by relevant authorities.
“The FIA Cyber Crime Punjab raided many areas in Lahore and Multan and seized more than 2,000 BVS SIMs being used for grey trafficking and other fraudulent activities and arrested eight suspects during the last few days,” says a media report while citing an FIA official.
He emphasized that the suspects got hold on these SIMs while taking advantage of the shortcomings in the system. It is also causing a loss amounting millions of rupees to the national exchequer in the form of grey trafficking.
The official further revealed that the fraudsters are also using these SIMs to get pin-code of the credit/debit cards from citizens while impersonating military officials.
“The misuse of BVS SIMs for grey trafficking and other such activities is alarming. It is feared that such SIMs may be used for disruptive activities, therefore immediate steps are needed by the PTA and telecom operators to deal with this problem,” he said.
However, the PTA spokesperson said that the authority is not a law enforcement agency. All the incidents of illegal issuance of SIMs, that have been reported to PTA, are forwarded to the law enforcement agencies for further investigation and possible action under the Telecom Act 1996 and PECA 2016.
He further added that as for grey trafficking, PTA actively identifies the illegal termination channels to prevent them. It also shares the relevant information with FIA for punitive actions against the grey operators, he said.