The Ghanaian government loses over $500,000 monthly to SIM box fraud

SIM box fraud: State loses GH¢3m monthly

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kenneth Ashigbey

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has revealed that the Ghanaian government loses over GH¢3 million ($527,619.90) every month to SIM box fraud.

SIM box fraud is an illegal scheme that allows for the diversion of international calls into local ones. This illicit act is done by Ghanaians and their international partners who route international calls through the Internet and terminate them on local mobile phone numbers to attract local charges.

This prevents the government from receiving the appropriate revenue from international calls. This has also caused a reduction in International Direct Dialling (IDD) revenue from as high as GH¢222 million in 2012 to about GH¢56 million, which is projected for the end of 2019.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kenneth Ashigbey said the fraudsters were now using newer and more improved technologies to hide their locations and make it difficult to trace their whereabouts.

He added that the telcos had blocked about 70,000 SIM cards since January this year and also identified several new schemes employed by the fraudsters to perpetuate the illegality.

They included bypass, CLI masking, and number refilling, both of which had the same effects as SIM box fraud.

“In CLI masking, the offending operator manipulates the calling party number to make it look as if it were a local call,” Mr Ashigbey explained.

Mr Ashigbey said, to deal with this, the telcos have also adopted advanced technology to fight this menace.

“Our members have to ensure that we are also ahead of the curve so that we can arrest these fraudsters, but it requires investments in new technologies, systems, and processes to counter the fraudsters.”

When asked why the SIM box fraud persisted, Mr Ashigbey said as an industry the chamber had always advocated the removal of the surcharge on incoming international traffic (SIIT). He said this is because the fraudsters were currently leveraging and exploiting the arbitrage between the international rate of 19 cents and local rate of 10Gp per minute.

“Within this much-liberalised economy, we should remove the $0.19 on all international incoming minutes and allow the market to determine the tariff. We need to take out the arbitrage that currently exists,” he said.

He added that the Police have been of great help by arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.

He said the in the last two weeks the joint effort of the chamber and the police had led to the arrest of four persons in Accra. He added that two others were on the run.

All the arrests were made in the suburbs of Accra, including Alhaji Tabora, Nungua, Awudome Estates, and Mamprobi.

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