MTN leads way in clamping down on Simbox fraudsters

MTN Ghana in collaboration with an anti-fraud team made up of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), National Communications Authority (NCA) and other telecom service providers have nabbed two suspects engaged in a SIM Box syndicate operating at Dome–Pillar 2, in Accra.

The two fraudsters Evans Agbenyo and Georgia Vera Mensah, both students in their 20s and their equipment were displayed at a press briefing held at the CID Headquarters in Accra.

Meanwhile two others, Christopher Kojo Ewusie and John Owusu are on the run.

Director General of the CID Commissioner of Police (COP) Prosper Kwame Agblor said “the suspects have been operating for about six months at Dome Pillar Two and they have so far diverted a total of two million minutes of international calls to Ghana through their SIMboxes.”

He said the diversion resulted in a loss of $836,000 to both the Government of Ghana and the telecoms service providers. Additionally, Electronic Equipment, 1,006 SIM cards, 954 new and unused SIM cards, and 100 unused recharge cards belonging to Telecom’s operators were retrieved.

The CID Capo said “…the police in collaboration with our stakeholders are up in arms against these fraudulent activities.”

He therefore assured MTN and all the telco’s of CID’s continued preparedness to support efforts at reducing the menace, and urged the general public to share information whilst assuring them of anonymity.

MTN Ghana has expressed serious concerns about inconvenience to honest customers, the consistent loss of revenue to its business and the Government of Ghana as a result of SIMbox fraud.

Revenue Assurance Senior Manager at MTN, Nixon Wampamba revealed that MTN is losing about $600,000 per month due to SIMbox fraud. He assured the general public that several internal and external measures have been put in place to ensure this menace is eliminated.

He explained that MTN has contracted an external company to trace and identify SIMbox operators whose activities inconvenience subscribers, hamper growth of MTN’s business and affect the economy through revenue leakage.

The Minister of Communication Dr. Omane Boamah commended all the collaborators especially MTN, Ghana Police-CID, NCA and the Telecoms Chamber for their vigilance in bringing the culprits to book.

He reiterated the government’s efforts at supporting the reduction and total elimination SIMboxing through appropriate regulatory actions and reforms, and implementation of ITU recommendations.

Between 2010 and August 2014, a total of 13 SIMbox fraud cases have been recorded, and 17 suspects, both Ghanaians and foreign nationals, have also been arrested. Cumulatively a total amount of $50 million has been lost to both government and the telecom service providers with MTN being the biggest loser.

MTN encourages its subscribers to text any local number that appears as an international call – to MTN short code 419.

SIMbox fraud occurs 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.

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