Aadhaar-SIM fraud : All you need to know

This article talks about a new fraud done using Aadhaar-SIM cards and explains how its done, what precautions one can take and remedies available legally or otherwise

Famous Television and Film Actress Maanyatha gets a message from TRAI(Telecom  Regulatory of India) that her SIM card will be blocked, to know more call this number. When she calls that number, she comes to know that a SIM card was issued in her name in Mumbai and a FIR is registered on that SIM for sending some threatening and lewd messages and hence getting blocked. On speaking to the related police officer she comes to know her Aadhaar was used to purchase SIM card, she pleads that she had never visited Mumbai and on further checks, she comes to know that she was a victim of Aadhaar card misuse and SIM card fraud.

 Most of us use Aadhaar card as a Identity card and give out the printouts or photocopies or scanned copies of our Aadhaar card at the Banks, Hotels and various other places, Cybercriminals steal those either by hacking or through the middle man or third party involved in the verification and then misuse our Aadhaar card information or photocopies to get SIM cards or commit various other cybercrimes. I had written previously about the various cybercrimes that are committed misusing our Aadhaar card details(various Aadhaar frauds).

There are two main issues with this fraud, one being issuance of Aadhaar card printouts or photocopies or scanned copies without proper care or necessity and second being the the negligence, irresponsibility, laziness, indifference and ignorance of the verification process by the officers/agents while issuing SIM card, its possible that there can be a inside involvement in the fraud. Also cybercriminals try to buy the SIM cards at Tier-3 cities or in some centers, where the process is not followed in detail.

Precautions that can be taken to prevent such Aadhaar-SIM frauds :-

  • Do not share your Aadhaar card printouts or photocopies or scanned copies unless its absolutely needed, then ensure that you mention the date and reason for issuing very close to the aadhaar picture.
  • Instead of Aadhaar use driver’s license or voter ID for verification of your name, age or address.
  • Block your Aadhaar card on Aadhaar website or mAadhaar App and unblock it when you want to use it.
  • Check how many SIM cards are issued in your name on sancharsaathi (https://sancharsaathi.gov.in/) website, and block or delete any unused or unknown SIM cards issued in your name.
  • Dial *#21# on your phone to check if your phone has auto forwarding of sms or calls set, if yes dial *#002*# to block or delete that auto forwarding instruction if you have set it.
  • Use good antivirus and firewall software on your phone and regularly update it.

If you are a victim of such Aadhaar-SIM fraud :-

Immediately call 1930 cyber helpline or file a complaint at cybercrime.gov.in website or nearby police station. Lock your Aadhaar card at Aadhaar website or mAadhaar App and file a complaint there on misuse. Block unknown or unused SIM cards issued in your name at sanchaarsathi website. File a complaint against the government or other organizations that have allowed the fraud without proper verification and take legal action against them.

Legal remedies available to the victim :-

You can register a criminal case at your nearest cyber or children specific or regular police station, under the following legal sections or the Act as per sections prescribed by the police based on your case :

  • section 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), section 463/464/465 (make a false document or false electronic record , forgery), and 499/500 (Defamation) of Indian Penal Code(IPC)
  • section 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc), section 66 (punishment for computer related offences – a person committing data theft, transmitting virus into a system, destroying data, hacking, or denying access to the computer or network to an authorized person is imprisoned for a maximum of 3 years or a fine of 5 lakh rupees or both), section 66C(which prescribes penalties for identity theft and states that anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly uses a person’s identity information will be subject to imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of up to 3 lakh rupees) and Section 66D (punishment for fraud by impersonation using computer resources) under of the Information Technology Act(IT) Act 2000.
  • section 36 – Penalty for impersonation, section 37 – Penalty for disclosing identity information or section 40 – Penalty for unauthorized use by requesting entity or offline verification-seeking entity under Aadhaar Act 2016, carrying punishment of imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine of Rs. 10,000/1,00,000 or both.

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