Corruption in Iraq has now been extended to SIM cards where the marketplace for distinguished numbers costs thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, the Washington Post reported.
These modest pieces of plastic inside phones, which connect them to a network, can rival that of gold and precious stones.
A regular SIM card runs about $3, while a Silver card carrying a number with some combination of consecutive pairs, such as 4455, costs about $30. A Diamond Plus card — which features a number whose last five digits are the same — will set a seeker back $1,300 to $1,500.
These distinguished numbers are usually given to politicians in a common and illicit way to curry favor. The cards help launder the bribes because they can be traded for cash.
Following the defeat of ISIS, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that rooting out graft would be the next big fight.
Dealers said that many of their regulars are assistants to Iraqi politicians and military officers who come to sell the valuable SIM cards gifted to their bosses.
Former PM Nouri al-Maliki’s two numbers are worth more than $10,000 each.
Also, Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil al-Barwari of the US-trained counter-terrorism service had a number that would fetch at least $38,000 for the sheer number of consecutive zeros, sources said.