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VoIP Gang Seized in Bangladesh

December 27, 2013

By Nicole Spector, Contributing Writer

When we think of gangs — packs of wolves or, more commonly, of people — united in a mission of violence, we don't often think of VoIP. And yet where there is a chance of crime, there shall be criminals. On Sunday night, a group of 39 people were arrested in the city of Uttara, Bangladesh. The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, seized a house that held, what the Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, describes as a "huge quantity of illegal VoIP equipment."

Thirty-seven of the individuals were arrested in a six-story building at sector-12 in Uttara. Thirty-two were from Taiwan, five were from China. The other two arrested were the group's driver, Habib, and a security guard, Kamrul. Both are citizens of Bangladesh. Most of the arrestees were men, though seven were female. Habibur Rahman, director of Rab's media department, says the unit seized VoIP equipment worth around 1 crore, which is roughly $214,431.36 (this number is to be taken with a grain of salt, as the conversions rates are in constant flux). The gang had American dollars on them as well, which the law enforcers also seized. The gang used landlines and the Internet to operate the illegal VoIP business.

The group had been transmitting calls bypassing the proper channel, which violates the rules of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory. They'd been running the business for at least the last year and a half, disguising themselves as apparel traders. The Taiwanese and Chinese members were staying in Bangladesh on a tourist visa that they kept extending.  

Details continue to unfold about the matter, though it's tricky to get them all straight. The Daily Star appears to be virtually the only publication following the story, and its English is spotty. A main incentive of the Rab right now is to uncover missing passports of some of those arrested.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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