‘SIM Box Fraud War Must Be Extended To Telecos’

simcardsThe National Communication Authority (NCA) has been urged to extend the war on perpetrators of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) SIM box fraudsters to the telecommunication companies to nip the illegal practice in the bud.

“As a professional in the telecom industry with years of experience and practice, I think the NCA and the Ministry of Communications are doing a good job, however, they need to extend the fight to the doorsteps of the telecommunication companies in Ghana to curb the practice,” Dr. Isaac Amo-Antwi, a Takoradi-based social worker and telecommunication professional, said at the weekend.

Dr. Amo-Antwi stated: “Fighting the fraudsters alone is like fighting the wind,” stressing that some staff of the telecom service providers may be involved in the syndicate.

VoIP is a system by which some persons re-route international calls coming to Ghana through some boxes in which they have inserted local SIM cards, and are able to terminate calls using those SIM cards, to make calls appear as local.

The SIM box fraud or VoIP commonly refers to the communication protocols, technologies, methodologies, and transmission techniques involve the delivery of voice communications and multi-media sessions over internet protocol networks, such as the internet.

Speaking to newsmen at the weekend on the recent arrest of some SIM box fraudsters in Accra, Dr Amo-Antwi said telecom service providers now have more questions to answer.

He suggested the need for telecom service providers to be held accountable for any legally acquired SIM cards being used for SIM box fraud since the nation had deactivated more than 1.5 million unregistered and invalidly registered inactive SIM cards, over the last two years.

Dr. Amo-Antwi said the Electronic Communication Amendment Act, 786, 2009, fixed the tariff for inbound international calls at 19 cents (33Gp) per minute, out of which six cents is for government and 13 cents for the telecom operators.

He urged the NCA and the Ministry of Communication to revisit the debate on international calls tariff, which is currently 19 cents fixed rate as compared to the lowest flat local call tariff, which is currently 8.4Gp.

Dr Amo-Antwi said fraudsters and fraudulent telecom service providers are able to make lots of money even if they charge less than 19 cents and terminate the call at only 8.4Gp.

He said reducing international call rates to the level of domestic call rates would automatically drive out SIM box fraudsters.

It is recalled that the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID), in collaboration with industry regulator; NCA and other telecommunication service providers arrested two suspects allegedly engaged in illegal SIM box syndicate.

According to the Police the suspects who have been operating for the past six months allegedly diverted 2,000,000 minutes of international calls to Ghana which resulted in a loss of $836,000 to Ghana and the telecoms service providers.

Mr Prosper Agoblo, Director General of CID, said, “Persons engaged in these fraudulent activities should desist from doing so because the police in collaboration with our stakeholders are up in arms against these fraudulent activities.”

He asked the public to share information whilst assuring them of their anonymity.

Between 2010 and August 2014, a total of 13 SIM box fraud cases have been recorded, and17 suspects, both Ghanaian and foreign nationals have been arrested.

A total amount of $50million has been lost to both government and the telecom service providers.


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