By Gifty Arthur
The Anti-Telecom Fraud Task Force, made up of detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), personnel from the National Communications Authority (NCA), Telecommunications Service Providers with a state-of-the-art technology provided by SUBAH Infosolutions Ghana Limited, have arrested three suspect for engaging in SIM BOX fraud.
The suspects, who diverted their share of the booty into a private escrow account abroad, denied government, some US$196,992. 00.
The three, including a 16-year-old minor, Nicholas Ntsu, Selassi Dorfenyo 24 and Eric Agbanya 30, both business men, were arrested on July 6, 2015 by the team, during a swoop in Tema Community 12 in the Greater Accra Region.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) reveals to The Herald that, the contract with the SUBAH Infosolution, is raking a whopping GH¢50 million into state coffers on monthly basis.
Recently, a year’s contract was signed between the company and GRA, while government takes steps to establish the Interconnect Clearing House under Ministry of Communication. This was after the last deal expired in May, this year.
The taskforce is able to perform this operation primarily, because of the technical support at their disposal from SUBAH, which is able to detect the exact location of the fraudsters, leading to their arrests.
The recent arrest, comes months after the team arrested six others, including a founding member of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), Dr. Alexander Tweneboah, who is still facing criminal trial in court.
This brings to 24, the number of arrests made in the last 7 months as persons involved in SIM box fraud.
At a media briefing yesterday at the Police Headquarters in Accra where two of the three arrested suspects were shown to the media, the Director-General of the CID, Commissioner of Police (COP), Prosper Kwame Agblor said, the three suspects were found at their base, busily scratching and loading top-up cards unto SIM cards to feed the SIM boxes which were operational at the time of their arrest.
The team in a search at the premises of the suspects retrieved 2 SIM Boxes, 700 MTN SIM cards, 100 Airtel and MTN Top-up cards, a generator, heavy duty batteries, 1 laptop, 1 mini tablet and 16 antennas.
During interrogation, suspects Selassi and Nicholas, mentioned one Eric Akpanya, as the one who engaged them to assist him operate the SIM Boxes.
The following day July 7, 2015, suspect Eric, was apprehended and he confessed his involvement in the crime. Eric, told the team he had a Lebanese national as his partner in the operation, who is yet-to-be arrested.
According to COP Agblor, “the suspects have confessed operating this illegal business for the past four months”. Since 2011, the team according to COP Agblor, have had three suspects convicted, discharged 4, 10 pending, 1 case to the A-G’s Department for advice while 6 suspects are on the run.
Charges to be preferred against the suspects includes, money laundering, while their accounts and asserts are likely to be seized by the states.
He warned that with the equipment provided by SUBAH Infosolutions, experts in revenue assurance, document digitization, banking solutions and rural telephony, they would locate the hideouts of these nation wreckers, “and that we shall continue to pursue such fraudsters until SIM Box fraud is brought to its barest minimum if not eradicated”.
The General Manager Business Development of SUBAH Infosolutions, Redeemer Kwame, reiterated his outfit’s commitment to work with the agencies involved in the operation to clampdown these fraudsters.
“The consistency with which we have performed our duties could not have been possible without the support we have received from the National Communications Authority [NCA], the security agencies and the telecommunication operators and we assure you that together, we will succeed and ensure that SIM boxing become history”, he said.
The Director-General of the NCA, William Tevie, noted that the many arrests that have been made in parts of the country including Accra, Kumasi and Tema ‘has truncated an estimated loss of fifty-two million dollars of revenue that was due to be received from service providers abroad if the calls had passed through the licensed international gateways to Ghana’.
On the 700 SIM Cards retrieved from this month’s arrest, Mr. Tevie, urged the Police to investigate in details, the SIM Cards and activation of such numbers for this illegal bypass of international traffic.
The exercise is part of the special SIM fraud triangulation project by the stakeholders like SUBAH and the Police CID to digitally locate and confiscate SIM boxes used in the illegal business.
A SIM box fraud, is a setup in which fraudsters install SIM boxes with multiple low-cost prepaid SIM cards and terminate international calls through local phone numbers to make it appear as if the call is a local one.