IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is like the ID card number or digital fingerprint for the smartphone. Every smartphone has a unique or different IMEI number which will be used to track a smartphone when lost or to trace out any criminal activity involving a smartphone.
IMEI can also be used by the telecom companies to provide cellular connectivity via a sim card, so the IMEI number of the two devices cannot be the same.
The police in Meerut city situated in Uttar Pradesh India has registered a unique case. The police stated that while investigating they have found more than 13000 smartphones of Chinese Smartphone maker VIVO have the same IMEI number. Considering it a security threat Meerut police have registered a case against VIVO.
The investigation started in September 2019, when a sub-inspector of the Meerut Police Department got his smartphone back after repair from the service center. However, he noticed that after the repair the phone showed a system error upon checking he found out that the IMEI number on the phone is different that is on the phone’s box.
Upon investigating the VIVO service centre, the manager told police that the IMEI had not been changed. The case was then sent to the cyber cell team, which expedite the IMEI number of the smartphone to the SIM operator, which is used in the smartphones for further data.
After investigating for over five months, the cyber cell team found out that more than 13,557 Vivo smartphones were using the same IMEI number.
The police sent a notice to Vivo India’s nodal officer Harmanjit Singh, and the company has yet to issue a statement on this matter
IMEI number is not relevant to many of the users, but it is a security concern as it is difficult for the police to trace criminal activity.
In 2012, a similar incident occurred when 18000 smartphones were caught using the same IMEI number. In 2017, India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a notification that all the smartphones would have a unique IMEI number, and tempering or manipulation of IMEI number would cause three years in jail.
Last year in Jabalpur India over a hundred thousand lost phones found out to be using the same IMEI number.