More than one lakh mobile phones in India have the same IMEI number and around half of those were in Madhya Pradesh alone, said the state police in a shocking revelation.
International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI numbers are factory built and unique to each phone, making it possible to identify and track them when lost or stolen.
Investigation and raids by the MP police have led to arrest of one Jabalpur mobile shop owner and revealed the existence of around two dozen other shops involved in cloning of IMEI numbers. Changing the IMEI numbers leads to electronic masking, making stolen phones impossible to trace.
Jabalpur’s Inspector General (IG) of Police Vivek Sharma said it was criminal in law to change the IMEI number. He added that a list of about 50,000 tampered mobile phones in MP, carrying the same identification number was being prepared and will be given to the Centre for blacklisting.
A seller of mobile phones in Jabalpur, Pradeep Thakur, who used to change the IMEI numbers illegally using a machine, was arrested on Wednesday night and police also recovered about 125 stolen phones from various people in the city.
Investigations have revealed that at least two dozen other shopkeepers are also involved in this racket.
“We are trying to nab them,” Sharma said, adding, “Most of the owners of the tampered phones said they purchased the phones second hand from different shops in Jabalpur area.”
Cyber police was trying to find out why a particular IMEI number was engraved on so many phones and if the IMEI tampering machine was easily available in the market.