Hyderabad: In what seems to be a major threat to pre-paid mobile phone users, Rachakonda police busted a major digital marketing racket, and seized around 4,000 Vodafone SIM cards.
Police arrested three engineering graduates, two Vodafone distributors and their three associates who were involved in the racket. Police said the suspects procured SIM cards by using forged ID proofs and photographs and used it for cheating major companies through marketing campaigns.
Police said they are also probing the role of the Vodafone management in supplying huge quantities of SIM cards to suspects.
The suspects are engineering graduates M. Sandeep, 26, B. Manoj Kumar Goud, 24, and A. Surender Reddy, 26, and Vodafone distributors B. Murali Krishna, 28, K. Ravikanth, 32, and J. Srinivas, 33, M. Venu Madhav, 38 and K. Srisailam 28.
Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagawat said the racket did not cause losses to the public but only to the companies paying the suspects. “The SIM cards which they procured by using forged documents and photographs is a concern. If these SIM cards fall into the hands of criminals they can put the card owner at great risk. They can be used by crooks for crimes and harassing women,” the commissioner said.
The digital marketing process has four channels starting from the firm owner, ad agency, the affiliated network (agents) and publishers. The firm appoints an ad agency to promote its products digitally and the ad agencies appoint a network operator through whom the publishers work. The networks share client data to the ad agencies who sell data or mobile numbers and email IDs to the networks, which they share to the publisher. The publishers also collect data from other agents and mobile operators.
“This data is uploaded in the customer database by publishers. For each call (successful campaign) the publisher gets an amount of up to Rs 50 and in some cases it is up to Rs 100. But as the publisher gives the number of the SIM card in the portal, they themselves answer the call posing as customers and automatically the money is credited to the publisher,” Mahesh Bhagawat said. He said they are writing to the Vodafone management to strengthen their vigilance. There are chances of booking the management for abetting the offence if their role is proved. The arrested persons were remanded to custody.