An anti fraud collaboration between the National Communications Authority (NCA), all telecom service providers in the country and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has led to the arrest of a six-members SIM Box syndicate operating between Oregon in the United States of America and Accra, Ghana.
Members of the syndicate had according to investigators, carried out the illegal termination of telephone calls also known as SIM box operations in the last seven months during which, it deprived telecom operators and the state revenue in the region of GH¢7.2 million about US $ 4.5m.
Those arrested were Kofi Osei, 26; Eugene Parker, 27; Richard Kwakye, 28; Kingsley Lartey, 29; Kenneth Kpetsigo, 25, and Mawuli Ahiekpor, 30, all unemployed.
What is SIM Box? In recent times, fraudulent SIM Box operations have gained prominence in many parts of the world especially in Africa. The fraud takes place when individuals or organizations illegally terminate a voice call which is the preserve of registered licensed network operators, usually at lower cost than the approved rates. These are then used to channel national or international calls away from licensed international gateway operators and presented as local calls on unlicensed networks. The net result of this illegal termination of minutes is a significant loss of international call revenue to both mobile network operators and the state. The Disadvantages It creates lower customer satisfaction and affects mobile networks through the removal of caller line identity, network congestion on same cell, high authentication attempts over networks as well as long waiting time and difficulty in connection. Aside these, there is a generally poor quality of services including voice signal delay and an excessive number of dropped calls The scale of SIM box fraud is driven by the easy availability of GSM gateway hardware and the wide range of different offers available from mobile network operators. This makes it possible for organizations to effectively go into business, terminating GSM calls and generating thousands in revenue which, should otherwise have been collected by network operators. What Has NCA Done The Joint NCA, network operator and CID Anti-fraud taskforce has made several arrests since May 24, 2011, including one in which two main agents of the syndicate based in the United States and a staff of telecom operator Airtel were busted. Their cases are pending before law courts in Ghana. An offender was earlier jailed five years after prosecution. The latest operation that led to the arrest of May 31, 2012, was lead by the CID and the Fraud prevention Manager of Vodafone with collaboration from the NCA. A discovery in a house in Teshie in the Greater Accra region led investigators to multiple locations at Tuibleoo and Tebibiano all in Teshie, Achimota Chantan, Dzorwulu, Agbogba, Haatso , Adabraka, Newtown, Dome Pillar Two, Winneba and Koforidua. All the SIM box equipments were found installed in the bedrooms of suspects, some under beds. Some 25 servers installed with SIM boxes, 8 laptops, a quantity of Cisco routers and printers that were retrieved are with the Police CID. The NCA and telecom service providers declared war in 2010 on SIM box operations by setting up the Joint Anti Fraud Taskforce. It is estimated that the operation of SIM boxes costs the nation hundreds of millions of US dollars that could go into supporting the growth of ICT and other sectors of the Ghanaian economy.