A recent police report has shed light on the concerning trend of stolen or snatched iPhones from Pakistan being resold after undergoing resets
According to the local media reports, law enforcement authorities have uncovered a significant number of such iPhones, particularly from individuals returning to Pakistan from Dubai.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South, Irfan Baloch, informed that a thorough cross-check of IMEI numbers was conducted for 10,237 distinct mobile phones that had been seized or reported stolen in Karachi between November 2022 and July 2023. The results reveal an alarming situation.
In the South district, efforts led to the recovery of 423 mobile phones out of 1,230 cases investigated. Meanwhile, in the City district, IMEI numbers for 1,978 mobile phones were processed, resulting in the recovery of 345 phones and tracing of 989 others.
The Keamari district saw a scrutiny of IMEI numbers for 1,452 mobile phones, leading to the recovery of 377 and tracing of 726 devices. Furthermore, a substantial body of evidence has pointed towards a pattern where cellphones confiscated or stolen in Karachi are finding their way to markets in Dubai and Afghanistan.
Deputy Inspector General Baloch stated that approximately 22 mobile phones were illicitly transported through Balochistan into Afghanistan. These phones were subsequently sold in local markets before being confiscated.
An intriguing aspect of this discovery is that these phones, upon reaching Quetta, were still connected to Pakistani mobile SIM cards, making their identification possible.
The DIG of the South also revealed that his team successfully recovered stolen iPhones from Karachi, revealing a sophisticated process by which these devices were reset and their iCloud passcodes bypassed before being introduced into the Dubai market.
He further clarified that the individuals from whom these iPhones were confiscated had initially acquired them from local markets in Dubai and subsequently transported them into Pakistan.
Pakistan is facing a new surge in illegal activities involving stolen mobile phones. A mafia network has emerged, specializing in reselling stolen phones after “patching” – a process that alters the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, making them untraceable.
For a mere Rs500 to Rs1000, individuals selling stolen cellphones can easily get their IMEI numbers changed. As a result, these patched mobile phones flood the market at prices significantly lower than their original counterparts, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to identify the fraud.
The fraudulent practice bears resemblance to tampering with the engine or chassis numbers of stolen vehicles, but unlike vehicles, it’s relatively easier to restore the changed IMEI number of a mobile phone using specialized software. Only IMEI number-checking websites, the Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), or expert technicians have the capability to verify or restore the original IMEI number of a patched phone.