Deplores Technology Against Telecom Fraudsters
By Gifty Arthur
A state of the art technology, provided by SUBAH infosolution Ghana Limited, has helped a joint anti-Telecom Fraud Taskforce, on a nationwide operation to clamp down on SIM box fraudsters, denying the State billions of Ghana cedis, paid by mobile telephone subscribers, both here in Ghana and abroad.
A total revenue lost to the state has been put at Thirty three million, five hundred and ninety two thousand, three hundred and twenty US dollars (US$33, 592,320.00), the cedi equivalent of One Hundred and seven million, four hundred and ninety five thousand Ghana cedis (GHc107,495, 000.00).
Subah infosolution, became a household name some two years ago, with the people mainly politicians, as well as telecom companies, saying the telephone call monitoring arrangement between it and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), was fraud tainted.
It claimed that Subah, was getting free monies from GRA for no work done. It appears the company and the GRA have been vindicated.
The anti-Telecom Fraud Taskforce, is made up of detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), National Communication Authority (NCA) and Telecom Service Providers.
The Minister for Communications, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, regretted the practice saying that the “amount involved is worrying”. He tasked the telecommunication companies, to put in more effort at making the act less lucrative for operators of SIM Box fraud.
He questioned, how an individual could possess as many as 21, 232 SIM cards, when under the laws of Ghana, they are supposed to be registered. “How did the suspects manage to operate, if they were not backed by people within the telecom sector?” he asked.
The minister, said mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that their activities are brought to an end by December, this year.
Dr. Omane, hinted that the CID and the ministry, would seek the Chief Justice’s advice for the judiciary to speed up prosecution and also the threat posed by the menace, and ensure that suspects brought to the various courts receive severe sentences to deter others from the practice.
The operation, which commenced between December 2014 and January, 2015, according to the Commissioner of Police (COP) Prosper Kwame Agblor, Director-General of CID, Prosper Kwame Agblor, is “one of the biggest and successful operations, carried out by the Taskforce, as far as SIM Box fraud is concerned.
The support, according to Mr. Agblor, who was full of praise for the company, was as a result of the technical equipment provided by SUBAH infosolution.
He explained that “the participation of the company in the operation was by virtue of the fact that they have a responsibility through a contract with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to monitor both local and foreign inbound calls for the purposes of checking leakages in national revenue”.
Mr. Agblor, who said this at a press conference on Monday, revealed that the Police, lack the technical support that was provided by SUBAH infosolution, admitting that in the future, if Subah withdraws itself from the operation, the “very risky” exercise, will suffer. The fraudsters are always armed.
According to him, the equipment is able to detect where these operators work and it leads them to the exact location, where their activity was taking place.
The activities of the fraudsters, who have been arraigned before court and remanded into prison custody, caused the state, a total amount of GH¢107, 495,000, between a period of 5 and 7months.
Prominent among those arrested from Koforidua, Baatsona, Accra, Tema and Kumasi, is a founding member of Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), Dr. Alexander Tweneboah.
The ex-president of the popular real estate development agency, was arrested at Baatsona on January 15, 2015, after the taskforce, first busted three persons namely; Emmanuel Kofi Essil fie, Edmond Essil fie and Kwaku Appiah.
Dr. Tweneboah, was arrested at his home, after the other suspects denied knowledge of the gadgets and mentioned him.
Items seized on them included, one SIMBOX with a b4 slot SIM server, 4G internet Modem, 1 laptop computer and mini Antennas.
The other five, arrested in separate operations in Kumasi, Tema, Accra and Koforidua, are Habib Alvin 29, dealer in computer accessories, Francis Abbey 22 and a trader, Ebenezer Boateng 30, network engineer, Victor Owusu, alias Yaw Atta; and Kwadjo Asare, 21, both unemployed.
At Koforidua in the Eastern Region, where the first operation started, the taskforce on January 10, 2015, arrested one Ebenezer Baoteng 30, Victor Owusu, aka Yaw Atta, and Kwadjo Asare, 21, both unemployed, they had 4 SIM Box equipment in one of the office in the SSNIT office complex in Koforidua, illegally terminating
international call traffic.
Other items seized from the suspects were, three heavy duty batteries, one small generator and large quantities of assorted scratch cards of various Telecom Service Providers, four internet routers, one Dell monitor, one Dell CPU, one ACP battery backup, three laptop computers and others.
At Accra, the taskforce traced and seized 3 SIM Box equipment, 3 SIM servers, a 4G modem, 1printer and 1 laptop computer from a house at North Kaneshie, but were unable to arrest anyone. According to the Police, they are on course to arrest those suspects for criminal prosecution.
In Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Alvin Habib, 29, dealer in computer accessories, Francis Abbey, 22, trader were also arrested on January 16, 2015 at Asafo where they had mounted four-SIM Box equipment in their residence with two power investors, six heavy duty batteries, small internal antennas and quantity of Glo and Vodafone SIM cards were also seized.
At Tema, also in Accra, the taskforce seized twelve GOIP SIM Box equipment and its accessories, one inverter and a computer from a building near the fishing Habour.
According to the Police, the caretaker of the building, David Ayitsi was arrested and mentioned Daniel Nehnu, a Lebanese and a notorious SIM Box operator who once jumped bail after he was arrested for the same offence, as the owner
So far, six suspects are in court on two counts which are illegal termination of calls and operation of telecommunication without license, contrary to the Electronic Communication Act 775, (2008).
Others including, an Italian have been jailed five years, a Lebanese, British, Nigerian and 13 Ghanaians are in still in court for the same offence.
For some time now, fraudulent SIM Box operations have gained prominence in Ghana.
The act 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.