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Indonesian Police busts illegal IMEI mafia network, civil servants among six apprehended in $23.4 million state loss

The Indonesian National Police’s Cyber Crime Directorate (Bareskrim Polri) successfully dismantled an illegal IMEI mafia network in the Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).

Six suspects, including civil servants, were apprehended for uploading 191,965 IMEI illegally, causing an estimated Rp 353 billion ($23.4 million) loss to the state.



INDONESIA: The Cyber Crime Directorate of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim Polri) has successfully dismantled an illegal International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) mafia network operating within the Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).

The CEIR is a database that stores IMEI numbers of mobile phones circulating in Indonesia.

The Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, was among the first to discover the suspicious activity.

He revealed that since the implementation of the IMEI registration policy in 2018, he was approached by several parties inviting him to engage in IMEI licensing matters.

“I was tempted and lured by some parties to participate in illegal IMEI activities,” he disclosed during a press conference on last Friday (28 Jul).

Minister Agus then instructed the Directorate General of Metal, Machinery, Transportation, and Electronics Industry (ILMATE) under the Ministry of Industry to investigate these alleged abuses of authority.

The investigation revealed that not only the Ministry of Industry but also three other institutions – the Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and mobile operators – were involved in unauthorized IMEI licensing.

“I checked with them to see if they had access in other institutions, and they confirmed they did, mainly through the Ministry of Industry,” Agus stated.

In light of these discoveries, Minister Agus urged the police to conduct a fair investigation into IMEI violations and emphasized that all institutions involved should work together to clean up the situation.

Bareskrim Polri successfully apprehended six suspects related to illegal IMEI activities. Among the detained are private individuals identified with the initials P, D, E, and B, who were responsible for supplying illegal electronic devices.

Additionally, two civil servants with the initials F from the Ministry of Industry and A from the Directorate General of Customs and Excise were arrested for their involvement.

Commissioner General Wahyu Widada, the Head of the Criminal Investigation Agency (Kabareskrim) of the Indonesian National Police.

According to Head of the Criminal Investigation Agency (Kabareskrim) of the Indonesian National Police, Commissioner General Wahyu Widada, at Bareskrim Polri headquarters on Friday (28 Jul), the illegal IMEI actions occurred between 10 and 20 October 2022, during which a total of 191,965 IMEI were uploaded illegally into the Ministry of Industry’s CEIR system.

Moreover, there were reports of unauthorized e-commerce accounts offering IMEI unblocking services, falsely claiming to represent the Ministry of Industry.

The potential financial loss to the state from this illegal IMEI network is estimated to be around Rp 353 billion (approximately $23.4 million).

Bareskrim Polri calculated this figure based on the total number of IMEI and the applicable 11.5% tax rate.

Bareskrim Polri pointed out that the perpetrators neglected the proper application procedures and approvals from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kemenkominfo) before entering the 191,965 IMEI data into the CEIR application. This breach of regulations regarding IMEI registration led to legal charges against them. The perpetrators are facing a 12-year prison sentence.

The investigation into the case began with a police report filed on February 14, 2023. During the process, 15 witnesses and four experts were questioned.

Brigadier General Adi Vivid Agustiadi Bachtiar, the Director of the Directorate of Cyber Crime of Bareskrim Polri,

In response to the crackdown on illegal IMEI activities, around 191,000 illegal mobile phones, mostly iPhones, are expected to be shut down for not undergoing the required verification procedures in accordance with the law.

This was announced by the Director of the Directorate of Cyber Crime of Bareskrim Polri, Brigadier General Adi Vivid Agustiadi Bachtiar, during a press conference at Bareskrim Polri headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday (28 Jul).

In regards to the recent developments, Vice Chairman of Commission III, People’s Consultative Assembly from Gerindra Faction, Habiburokhman, praised Bareskrim Polri for uncovering the illegal IMEI mafia network in CEIR. He commended the police for their extraordinary achievement in potentially saving the state from losses amounting to hundreds of billions.

“This is an extraordinary achievement by Bareskrim Polri, as it can recover state finances to the tune of hundreds of billions of rupiah,” Habiburokhman stated to the reporters on Sunday (30 Jul).

Habiburokhman called for a thorough investigation into the case, stating that if left unaddressed, it could cause losses to the state amounting to trillions of rupiah. “This case must be promptly investigated. I received information that if this mafia case continues unchecked, it could even lead to trillions of rupiah in losses,” he emphasized.

Digital Economy Analyst and Director of the ICT Institute, Heru Sutadi, revealed that such violations have severe repercussions on the state’s finances. He urged the government to take this matter seriously, given the substantial financial losses resulting from the illegal access to the CEIR system.

“This is not a trivial matter, as it involves significant losses to the state due to unauthorized access to the CEIR system,” Heru told Tribunnews on Saturday (29 Jul). He pointed out that weaknesses in the CEIR system might have allowed such illegal activities to occur or, in other cases, the system might have been deliberately hacked and exploited for illegal purposes.

Heru further disclosed that Indonesia’s annual demand for mobile phones is approximately 100 million units. Therefore, proper management of IMEI registration is crucial to mitigate potential losses to the state.

“The potential for significant financial losses is substantial, and this goes against the government’s interests,” he concluded.

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