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1.5 Lakh fake phones found with the same IMEI number: Here's why you should worry

A major case of phone cloning has recently been uncovered, involving 150,000 mobile phones sharing the same IMEI number. These cloned devices pose a significant threat for potential cyber crimes.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: June 17, 2024 18:12 IST
Phone Cloning
Image Source : FILE Phone Cloning

A case of dangerous phone cloning has emerged, where 150,000 counterfeit mobile phones with the same IMEI number have been discovered. The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number is a unique 15-digit number used to track lost or stolen phones. Every mobile device, whether it's a smartphone or a feature phone, has its own unique IMEI number.

When multiple phones share the same IMEI number, it becomes challenging to determine which phone is involved in illegal activities. This particular case of phone cloning has been reported in Bangladesh, where 150,000 mobile phones with identical IMEI numbers were found. The statement was made by Shahid Alam, Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer of Robi, a mobile phone operator in Bangladesh, during a seminar held by the Directorate of Telecommunications in Dhaka.

Shahid Alam stated, "More than 150,000 mobile phones with the same IMEI number are in use in Bangladesh, and all these phones are fake." However, Bangladesh's former Chief Technology Officer AKM Murshid informed the BBC that the actual number of fake mobile phones may be lower than 150,000. AKM Murshid also indicated that for some years, 800,000 mobile phones were operating concurrently with the same IMEI number on an operator's network. It raises concerns about how so many mobile phones with the same IMEI number can operate simultaneously.

The IMEI number is a 15-digit unique identifier programmed into a mobile device during its manufacturing. However, some mobile phones may have 17-digit IMEI numbers. The IMEI number serves as the identity of a mobile phone, revealing its manufacturing location and the area in which it is being used.

Bangladesh utilises the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) to locate devices based on their IMEI numbers. This system is designed to easily identify mobile phones with the same IMEI number. You can check your phone's IMEI number by dialing *#06#.

Cybercriminals can clone phones using two methods for fraudulent purposes: SIM cloning and IMEI cloning. The Cyber and Special Crime Department of Bangladesh Police has carried out raids at multiple locations, uncovering a gang involved in producing fake handsets. Phones with counterfeit IMEI numbers are extensively used in cybercrimes.

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