Arrests in Pakistan for fake fingerprint biometrics, NADRA breach alleged
Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested two men in Faisalabad for allegedly being involved in activating SIM cards with spoofed fingerprints, reports The Nation. The SIMs were reportedly being used to conduct illegal activities.
More than 6,000 silicone fingerprints were recovered along with 7,000 illegally-activated SIM cards, 19 ‘biometric devices,’ mobile phones and printers.
An investigation by the FIA has found that not only are fake SIM cards being exported from the country, the fraud is being carried out through a compromise of the National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA’s) biometric verification system, Dawn writes.
FIA Cybercrime Wing Additional Director Tariq Pervez stated that NADRA had been hacked, before clarifying that the biometric verification system has been compromised.
The FIA has informed NADRA that 13,000 SIMS were seized in Faisalabad, and thousands of investigations of cybercrime complaints have led back to people, many of them elderly or women, whose data is being fraudulently used.
Illegal SIM sales are up 600 percent, and in response, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman retired Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa said thumbprint biometric verification is being phased out.
Half a million SIMs have been blocked and two mobile network operators fined.
The statement from the FIA official reported by Dawn and the factuality of the entire article have since been denied by both NADRA and the FIA.
*Clarification about Hacking of NADRA's data.
It is clarified that no such statement was given about Hacking of data which has been misrepresented.FIA categorical denied the news aired on Dawn news which is not based on facts.
— Federal Investigation Agency – FIA (@FIA_Agency) November 25, 2021
India arrests for Aadhaar ID card fraud
Meanwhile in neighboring India, two men have been arrested in the outskirts of New Delhi for allegedly counterfeiting documents, voter cards, driving licenses and at least 500 Aadhaar ID cards, reports the Hindustan Times while 6,000 silicone fingers for biometric fraud were found in a raid in Pakistan. The biometric fakes may represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Fingerprint scanners and laptops were seized when the Nepali brothers were arrested. They had rented a shop unit for the purpose and were allegedly charging 2,000 to 3,000 rupees (US$27-40), according to the Hindustan Times, which quotes a police spokesperson as saying they hope to establish how the pair made the fake biometric credentials.
This post was updated at 16:25 with a message from the FIA Twitter account.