Islamabad: According to sources from Kot Addu and Muzaffargarh, multiple cases have been reported where citizens were made to give their CNIC numbers and biometric prints for ‘free goodies’.
Con artists, in the guise of door to door ‘product campaigners’, are reportedly collecting Computerised National Identity Card numbers and the biometric prints of citizens to get ‘illegal’ mobile phone sims issued using their credentials.
According to sources, fake representatives of household brands and products are making rounds in lower-income neighbourhoods of Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu, carrying a ‘sim verification machine’ that is used to collect biometric data of consumers by mobile company vendors and franchise-holders for issuing mobile phone sims in their names.
Biometric registration for mobile phone sim is mandatory in Pakistan and done by a sim verification machine which is directly connected to the NADRA database and verifies CNIC credentials of consumers including the biometric print. A mobile phone sim is issued only if the credentials of a person matches the biometric print.
Talking to Media Matters for Democracy, a local journalist from Muzaffargarh Mubasshir Hussain said that there had been ‘many’ such cases where these identity thieves had collected CNIC numbers and biometric prints using a sim verification machine either in the name of Benazir Income Support Program or by handing out household products as ‘gifts’,.
“Only mobile phone company vendors and franchise-holders have these sim verification machine. Its likely that franchise-holders are also involved. We know for a fact that illegal sims are being sold Rs. 1000 each”, he added.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available with Media Matters for Democracy.
Asad Baig is an Islamabad-based journalist. He is the founder and the executive director of Media Matters for Democracy, Pakistan’s leading media development organisation. He’s also the CEO of the Media Lab, country’s first and only incubator and accelerator for digital media startups. He tweets at @asadbeyg.