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News : Parallel Telephone Exchange Busted in Kochi
Kochi, India, Jan 29, 2016 -- The city police and telecom authorities have busted an illegal telephone exchange in a raid conducted near Kadavanthra Junction. Authorities said Aatos Infotech, an IT firm that started functioning a month ago as a call centre, offered the service mainly to those in the Middle East.
"Users are given a coupon on paying a fee. Using it, they can log in and make internet calls to all parts of the country. Aatos has set up an exchange-like facility in its office, where internet calls are routed as local calls. They had installed 384 SIMs of almost all service providers," said V Raghunandan, deputy director general, telecom enforcement resource and monitoring (term) cell, Kerala.
The arrangement was such that authorities would not be able to trace the caller or receiver, he said. The fraud came to light when a leading telecom company noted that none of the SIM cards it had given to Aatos as corporate connections were receiving incoming calls. "These phones never went out of the Kadavanthra tower location. We felt suspicious and informed authorities," said an officer with the telecom firm.
The lone employee at Aatos - a youth in his 20s from Thamarassery - claimed to have no clue about the business, and all the activities were controlled from Dubai.
"We have got a cheque book in the name of one Mohamed Nisar A, issued for Aatos. We assume that at least 5,000 local calls were made from each SIM card," said an official with Maradu police, where a case of criminal conspiracy has been registered.
Raghunandan said a similar 'call centre' was busted at Nenmara in Palakkad in December. "Another firm in Malappuram had removed all the equipment before we reached the spot."
It is estimated that around Rs 10 lakh is required to set up such an exchange. "They offer cheaper calls and evade 14.5% service charge, 8% adjusted gross revenue and corporate tax - taxes normally paid by telecom companies to the state exchequer, which would come to crores," authorities said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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