IMEI number changing expert caught

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KARACHI: A software expert, instead of using his skills to earn a decent livelihood, ended up becoming a highly-sought and well-paid technician who changed the IMEI numbers of stolen cell phones.

Wasim Barfat, arrested in a raid on Sunday, was working for a gang that bought stolen phones from snatchers and smuggle these sets to Afghanistan, said East district police chief SSP Irfan Bahadur.

Barfat would give the stolen and snatched phones to his ‘technician’ to unblock the IMEI and any security locks of the phones and make them ready for new users, Bahadur told the media.

IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a 15-17-digit code that is given to every mobile phone. Blocking this number would make the set useless. However, rouge software experts, override the IMEI number blocking and make the set useful again.

The civil intelligence agency, Special Branch, got the whiff of the network and dropped Barafat’s pin location for the Gulshan-e-Iqbal police.

Subsequently, a squad of Gulshan-e-Iqbal police station raided the spot and hauled in the intrepid software expert. According to SSP Bahadur, the suspect, Barafat, revealed that he buys snatched and stolen mobile phones from street criminals.

Barafat used to give the stolen mobile phones to his other accomplice to change the IMEI after which the IMEI of the mobile phones was changed and the said phones were first smuggled to Peshawar and then to Afghanistan.

The accomplice of the accused was arrested from New Karachi Mobile Market. Police had recovered 23 smart phones, seven button mobile phones, two CPUs and a laptop were recovered from the arrested accused. The recovered mobile phones were stolen from the limits of Sohrab Goth, Sachal and Site Super Highway Industrial Area.

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