Crime Branch officials busted an inter-state mobile phone racket, while investigating the mysterious and frequent foreign trips of a man who lived in the slums.
22-year-old Mehmood Shafi (in pic) was Mohsin Shaikh’s accomplice. He worked at his phone repair shop and was paid Rs 25,000 per month.
On Wednesday, the Property Cell of the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested Mohsin Shaikh (30) and Mehmood Shafi (22). The duo were running a business in changing IMEI numbers of stolen phones and reselling them to interested buyers in several states throughout the country. However, the police were led to the duo’s nefarious activities while they were looking into Mohsin’s frequent trips abroad.
The cops had initially received a tip-off about Mohsin — a resident of the Nirmal Nagar slums in Bandra (East) — who was making frequent trips abroad to places like Hong Kong and Bangkok. They were intrigued by Mohsin’s recurring trips because he lives in an 8x10 slum and runs a mobile repair shop in the locality. The police wondered how a slum dweller, who ran a small business repairing mobile phones was able to afford so many trips abroad.
A police source said, “Mohsin’s trips were reserved for sexual pleasures for which he would visit two specific companies. He earned huge amounts from selling stolen phones and changing their IMEI numbers, and he would spend this money on such trips. When he was out, Mehmood looked after all the work.” Mehmood, who is a Std IX dropout, was paid Rs 25,000 per month as a salary.
After investigating for a while, the Property Cell finally received a clear picture detailing Mohsin’s inter-state racket.
They raided Shaikh’s house on Wednesday and nabbed him and Mehmood. “We found the software and hardware used to change IMEI numbers. We also found 136 expensive phones, a computer and a laptop,” said Nitin Patil, assistant police inspector with the Property Cell.
Cops said that the accused were in touch with history-sheeters, who would supply them with stolen phones.
An IMEI number is a 15-digit unique code that is imprinted on mobile phones. This number helps track the mobile phone if it gets stolen or lost. A police officer said, “Using the latest devices, IMEI numbers can be changed within 10 minutes, after which it is not possible to track the phone. Terrorists can use these devices as well and we would not be able to trace them.”