Indonesia has recently seen a sudden emergence of illegal IMEI cases. The National Police’s Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) has recently unveiled a staggering case of IMEI violation, implicating multiple private entities and government officials, resulting in massive financial losses amounting to billions.
Based on the findings of 191,965 mobile phone units, the loss was calculated using a tax rate of 11.5 percent, according to Kabareskrim Polri Komjen Polisi Wahyu Widada.
“The estimated loss to the state is around IDR 353 billion. Because of the 191,000 mobile phones, the majority are iPhones with a total of 176,874 units,” Wahyu said at the Bareskrim Building (28/7).
All cellphones registered using the illegal IMEI will be turned off, including those with the iPhone brand. Turned off here means that the cellphone cannot be used, aka locked. Including not being able to catch the signal.
Illegal IMEI Case Mode with CEIR Machine Access
In this illegal IMEI case, the perpetrator accessed the CEIR (Centralized Equipment Identity Register) system located at the Ministry of Industry. For information, the Government has formalized IMEI regulations to eradicate BM cellphones (BlackMarket) which is effective from 18 April 2020.
Thanks to these rules, all cellphones used in cellular operator networks must first go through IMEI validation or registration. Mobile phones whose IMEI is registered are managed through a technology known as CEIR (Centralized Equipment Identity Register). CEIR is a database that stores International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers from cellphones circulating in Indonesia.
Police Commissioner General Wahyu explained that the disclosure of the case started with a complaint from the Ministry of Industry’s Directorate General of Metal, Machinery, Transportation Equipment and Electronics (Dirjen ILMATE) that there was an attempt to enter data illegally. Furthermore, 15 witnesses and 4 experts have been examined.
It is known that this case occurred for 10 days on 10-20 October 2022, namely IMEI uploads to the Ministry of Industry’s CIER system totaling 191,965 pieces. “There are also e-commerce accounts that sell IMEI unblocking services on behalf of the Ministry of Industry illegally,” he added.
6 suspects have been arrested by Bareskrim Polri in relation to the case involving violation of illegal IMEI registration. Among them are suppliers of illegal electronic units without rights through import duties, namely the initials P, D, E and B. All the suspects come from the private sector. Bareskrim has identified the individuals with initials F and A. F is a civil servant at the Ministry of Industry, while A is a civil servant at the Director General of Customs and Excise.
The Minister of Industry Has Known Since A Year Ago
Responding to the illegal IMEI case, the Minister of Industry (Menperin) Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said that his party had long been committed to dismantling the practice of illegal access to CEIR.
When the Government launched the IMEI registration program, of course it was also accompanied by efforts to reduce illegal cell phones (cellphones) entering Indonesia. Thus, imported cellphones entering Indonesia are legal and subject to tax. This effort is also to encourage the growth of the domestic cellphone industry,” said the Minister of Industry in Jakarta, Friday (28/7).
The minister from the Golkar Party explained that in its journey, the management of IMEI registration needs to be perfected. One example of irregularities that occur is an attempt to register an illegal IMEI. He has assigned the Ministry of Industry’s Director General of Metal, Machinery, Transportation Equipment and Electronics (Dirjen ILMATE) to uncover these illegal practices.
The Minister of Industry welcomed the steps taken by the Police to enforce the applicable regulations. “We have been aware of and since about a year ago have ordered to dismantle these practices. So now we are happy because we have given direction regarding this,” said Agus.
The Minister of Industry also asked the Police to conduct an investigation into this matter thoroughly and fairly, as well as related parties who have access to CEIR. Apart from the Ministry of Industry, parties who can access the CEIR are the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, the Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the Ministry of Finance, and cellphone operators.
Agus admitted that he had received invitations from several businessmen who played unfairly with illegal IMEIs. “I was contacted by several parties who asked me to play IMEI in quotes, about a year ago,” said Agus in a press conference.
He then tried to dig up information on whether these entrepreneurs already have access to work with other institutions that have authority over IMEI. As a result, he found that the Ministry of Industry was not the only institution that was dragged into this case. This is because it is not only the Ministry of Industry that can have access to CEIR. But there is the Ministry of Communication and Information, the Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the Ministry of Finance (Kemenkeu), to cellular mobile network operators or cellular operators.
“The suspect is already there, from our office [Kemenperin]. Now, of the four institutions that have access to the CEIR, the new suspects are from the Ministry of Industry,” said Agus.
The Indonesian version of this article can be read in Gizmologi.ID