Former National Security Capo, Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey is on Facebook calling on the pressure groups behind the Occupy Ghana Demo and RedFriday to shift their attention to SIM box fraud, which is diverting moneys meant for the state into the pockets of some fraudsters, including some telco workers.
SIM box fraud is the reason people get calls from overseas and see local phone numbers on their screen. The fraudsters behind it include people abroad and in Ghana. The route calls through the internet and terminate them in Ghana through hidden sim boxes fitted with local sim cards. That way the pay only local rates after they have charged international rates from source.
Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey’s argument is that, since the practice is denying the state money and some telcos are allegedly involved in the practice, the pressure groups in the country should turn some attention on those telcos and demand accountability from them too.
The post attracted lots of comments from members of the Occupy Ghana and RedFriday, journalists, telecom/ICT experts and some average-minded Ghanaians. The respondents included Franklin Cudjoe, Maximus Ametorgoh, Neyi Issiw and leading telecoms writer Samuel Dowuona.
All did agree with the Colonel that indeed there is need to stop that fraud, but a lot of the comments also referred him to recent issues in the telecom industry, and called on him to first demand accountability from the Minister of Communications and the industry regulator, National Communication Authority, before asking pressure groups to take on telcos. .
Some also invited Col. Gbevlo-Lartey to join Occupy Ghana and help push state institutions to work.
Others asked whether it is not time for Ghana to adopt the technology behind SIM boxing. It is called VoIP (voice over internet protocol), which is the same technology being used by Skype, Viber, Facebook and other applications that allow internet calls, which is not illegal.
Some even suggested that Col. Gbevlo-Lartey is preparing the grounds to enter into the telecom industry after leaving the National Security job, so he is going on the back of the OccupyGhana Group to announce his new direction.
Below is the full unedited post from Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and the responses he got from the public.
LARRY GBEVLO-LARTEY: Things that should engage our Friday Occupiers. Apart from the fact they could each Friday dress in their chosen colour and preach to the political parties the need to elect our MMDCEs, there is this other issue of national interest which could engage their vanguard efforts. A friend called me from Italy. The number that called me was 0503826641. Happens frequently with calls from outside coming in as a Ghana number. Sim-box fraud I hear they call it – ripping Ghana off. I hear that cannot be done without the active connivance of local telcos. Rampant practice by some Telcos a friend retorted. Did it happen that SIM card registration had its revisionist Apostles? Perhaps some red shirts and frocks action directed at the Telcos to provide info on the matter could help the Cedi’s current resurgence. Forward ever! Nkrumah never dies!”
EMMANUEL BRYAN AKRASI: Hmmm Chief, it is very sad.
CARL GAVIVINA KORKPOE: Unfortunately, we are all complicit in fleecing the country and then turn around to blame political leaders. Do we expect them to be acting German gestapo around us?
ALEXIS KWAME AMEY: Eishhhh, revisionist apostles paaaa, well, NCA is paid to monitor ths, but they love paying huge cash to Subah than monitoring.
XORNAM ZUMZUM AZUMAH: @Uncle Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, indeed, Nkrumah never dies.
KELVIN ELIKEM SEMAKOR AMEGBOR: “On point Colonel”.
XORNAM ZUMZUM AZUMAH: The Telcos and their regulating body called NCA must sit up. In fact, our laws must be put to work; and be made to bite hard at the law breakers whose acts and inaction rip off the state of so many cedis and dollars -pure fraud against the state….Nkrumah Never dies indeed @ Uncle Larry Gbevlo-Lartey”
NANA KWAME: I receive similar calls from the above number claiming he is calling from United State of America.”
ROOTMAN AGYEI AMOAH: I received a call from South Africa today and the number also appeared same. I wondered.”
KWADWO BOAKYE ANSAH: Uncle Larry I would therefore humbly request you to join the Occupy Gh [Ghana] movement to put our leaders and institution to Work. Ghana must Work, thumps up for the opinion.
JOE LAARI: What if the numbers are traced to ascertain the identities of those who as part of the sim-card registration process, registered their names/address with those numbers, can’t they be caught?
CHARLES FRANCE: You see the nation destroyers they never talk of the important issues but only thinking of unnecessary things that doesn’t increase our wealth and worth as a nation. Thanks Col. they better sit up with their red Friday which died on arrival.
SIMON EYRAM TSIKE-SOSSAH: Thanks for mentioning the SIM fraud issue. I’ve sent messages and email to the minister with no response even when he requested the support. I think that people with oversight responsibility must be active and open.
SAMUEL AGYEKUM: Good Evening Col. as your counterparts elsewhere are doing, can you please ask them to support you by monitoring calls from outside. Secondly I believe the use of calling card from outside should be looked into, we need to maximize revenue for the state as part of our effort to stabilize the currency.
MARFO GYIMAH: Indeed this issue needs attention.
HENRIETTA LOUISA NELSON-COFIE: Hahahahahha…Case study for the class Reds. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”……plank…tax evasion tactics.”
KOFI ONNY: How can the authorities in Ghana do anything if the callers are using the services of a proxy provider (scratch card) in a country where it is legal to route calls over cheap lines?”
AUGUSTINE KOKUKOKOR: No case study. There is an equipment that can be used to trace and arrest all these people. Our security and politicians are not interested in buying the equipment because of their own nefarious activities. Col Larry Gbevlo-Lartey I thought you knew or?”
IBRAHIM MAHMI IBASH: As an African proverb will state – ‘A child carried on the back must not know how long the road is’….most of the “red shirts and frocks action” people are babies of the TELECOS and thus are being carried on the backs of the telecos as they receive charities from the telecos. Hence sir, they might be handicapped if they attempt to direct their “red shirts and frocks action” on them. Otherwise, the telecos must really be accountable to Ghanaians on this SIM-BOX fraud. God bless our homeland Ghana!
DZIFA TORYIKEY: A recent literature I reviewed show that Multinational Companies steal 500 percent more than the total aid we receive from developed countries. It shows that if Multinationals stop tax evasion, Africa will not need Aid at all. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey on that point I poke you to check how the telcos operate. They employ/engage our finest journalists and media practitioners, celebrities etc. These people then coopt others. They sponsor all kinds of entertainment and so-called Social Responsibility programmes. The result is that they go away with murder.
LARRY GBEVLO-LARTEY: Dzifa Torvikey, it is called Neo-Liberalism.
NENYI ISSIW: I greet you well Col. Uncle Larry having read your post above several times, I believe you are endorsing the OccupyingMinds/RedFriday initiatives. Interesting development and great ‘food for thought’ Col. But erh…are we therefore admitting that the government institutions with the mandate and resources to deal with SIM boxing have delivered below expectation or maybe even failed, and we should call on the ‘richblend’ of pizza eating Ghanaians who were ‘strolling’ in the park on a rainy 010714 to act? We will revisit the burning issue of electing MDCEs shortly Sir.
SAMUEL DOWUONA: The Colonel is on point. Telcos parade a few fraudster caught doing Sim boxing but do not go deep to punish their staff and agents who issue the SIMs to the fraudsters. But l know Gbevlo-Lartey is working his way into the telecom industry, particularly with the clearinghouse license soon about to be issued. One of the purposes of the clearinghouse would be to do real time verification for both domestic and inbound international traffic. This will deal with SIM boxing to a large extent. There is strong suspicion Expresso and Subah are going to combine forces to form the clearinghouse. There is nothing wrong with that. But Gbevlo-Lartey, Joshua Peprah, Bernard Forson and others MIGHT be in there somewhere. So I see what Gbevlo-Lartey is doing. Lol.
MAXIMUS REDFRIDAY AMETORGOH: Colonel, the SIM Box issue is a simple but complicated one to deal with because of the deals and dealers involved. I am sure RedFriday and OccupyGhana will have their say in that regard.
It is obvious that the custodians of SIM Boxes are just decoys of the perpetrators of the actual fraud. Some think it is being perpetrated by international carriers who offer cheaper and competitive rates to terminate international calls locally.
Can it also be a case of regulation stifling innovation since some application using the same technology are allowed to terminate calls on SIM numbers in Ghana? Such apps include Viber, Skype, WeChat, Google Hangout, Facebook Messenger and Tango. There are many more of them people use to make calls over the Internet far cheaper than the cost of local call rates. This is my personal observation as a technology consultant and activist.
Is it possible that calls emanating from Ghana are also terminated in other countries as local calls?
I have been debating this issue with Samuel Dowuona and I think the regulators must organize a forum for this to be discussed.
SAMUEL DOWUONA: I believe so too Maximus Ametorgoh. I have asked the regulator about Ghana leveraging on the technology. No clear answer yet. All these VoIP platforms are working great, and users only pay for data consumption. Besides, the world is going All IP anyway. I just read a report which said small businesses elsewhere are drifting towards VOIP more than to the tradition Sim to Sim calls. So we must begin to have that discussion. Look out for my next article. The telcos told me we the media must start the discussion. But I think they need to find a way of leveraging on VoIP because they claim to be losing money to “simboxing”.
But let us not forget what Col Gbevlo-Lartey’s real agenda might be. I have nothing against it but I see it coming with him in there somewhere. Lol. Good morning Colonel.
FRANKLIN CUDJOE: Thanks, Uncle Larry Gbevlo-Lartey a noble call, but Edward Omane Boamah should be thinking harder. And his acolytes at the NCA, an institution becoming competently corrupt and a very lazy regulation-loving hippies. Ask Omane what he has done as a minister to reign in SUBAH THEFT, and the POLICY FOCUS brigand thieves who did a suspicious research for millions of $$$ what has been done. Then we will occupy them.
KATHLEEN ADDY: Government institutions failing and suddenly you think citizens should speak up. The very citizens you constantly mock though our taxes keep you in comfort and style. The citizens you are supposed to serve. Maybe SUBAH should be asked to take this up, and actually do some work for a change. Take a good hard look at the man in the mirror.
CLARA BEERI: NCA must get to work. I am pained that the NCA is not cracking this up. I am angered about Surbah. But does that mean I should look on if wrong is being done the nation and I can afford to do something about it? No, I do not think so. Because then, I am no better than the nation plunderers. Two wrongs do not make a right. Ghana belongs to all of us not only the politicians. I think we must occupy the politicians if they do Ghana wrong. So must we occupy any other person who does Ghana wrong too. We must be for Ghana irrespective of whether the politicians help or impede us in this quest. Stand up for Ghana.
FRANKLIN CUDJOE: Dzifa Torvikey do you have evidence for all you allege the telcos do? It is such dangerous thinking about telcos in this country and indeed multinationals that make me angry when they even engage in what you call CSR. Through CSR, they do the work of lazy and thieving government officials. In countries like Papua New Guinea, multinationals and the government have reached an agreement through a tax credit scheme so that the multinationals undertake rel development, government was supposed to undertake, but won’t, because of corruption, and then give companies tax credits. Madam, I will share with you in confidence the social impact analysis of these institutions many illiterately chastise and you will see the impact on the economy. By the way have you asked yourself why the multinationals should be here at all? This is why I believe in the Milton Friendman saying that the business of business is business!!Let governments learn. By the way the telcos contributed so much $$$ that ended being STOLEN by the politicians you hail in office right now through GYEEDA, SAD AND SUBAH. It is very annoying Larry Gbevlo-Lartey for us to divert attention away from the millions $$$$ being wasted from telcos and run after sim boxing as if were the monies to be retrieved from sim box fraud, they will be put to good use.
DZIFA TORYIKEY: Franklin Cudjoe, thanks. Since we are all in the research business, I will be glad you share such info with me. Very grateful. On the question of tax misuse, I have never spared governments in their mismanagement of the economy. I did that very boldly. You seriously need evidence. Mmmmmm.
SAMUEL BUAH-KWOFIE: I will not support any multi-National who steals from the state knowingly or unknowingly,that aside, there’s a dangerous erroneous impression being created that, the telcos are reaping off the state. A critical analysis of Telco business will show that, their profits have been dwindling whiles their opex and taxes have been going up. For over 10 years, call rates have dropped whiles within that same period price diesel has shot up over a 1000%. I believe the suspicion by gov’t should make way for trust and a concerted effort to shape the CSR initiatives of all Telcos.
MAXIMUS REDFRIDAY AMETORGOH: @Samuel, the telcos’ will keep losing profit because they are not innovating in the area of content and data. Voice is almost 100% saturated and our market is very small to have 6 top brands telecom operators in a country of 24million people. Purchasing power is not very low in Ghana.
LARRY GBEVLO-LARTEY: Don’t put foot my people in Red! Sim boxing is thievery too if at all. Any way we are mobilizing the Young Pioneers in case.
SAMUEL DOWUONA: Kathleen Addy I can almost bet my last pesewa on it that Subah will eventually get that job, to do real time monitoring for both local and international. They have the equipment for it, except that in the early stages they were fraudulently paid moneys to go get those equipment and we were lied to that they worked for it. Now they can actually do some work for us like you said. But I also have the hunch Expresso will be bought out by the same people behind Subah and they will add Expresso to the team for this all important clearinghouse work. You watch my predictions closely. At the right time I will bring you the full facts. But don’t get me wrong. I think it is good for this country that the industry is properly monitored, except those behind it know why they want to hide. Possibly because they think they will be exposed for pushing for regulations and system in the past, just to pave the way for their present status
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