A SIM Box syndicate operating at Community 11 in Tema in the Greater-Accra Region has been busted in a combined operation by officials of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service.
A statement from NCA said a total of eleven SIM Box equipment with capability of using 352 SIM cards simultaneously were retrieved from the premises along with other illicit equipment used for the criminal activity.
“It is estimated that an amount of US$1,938,816 in both revenue and taxes have been lost per month to the state, assuming each device operated at an average of 18 hours per day,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the February 19, 2020 raid was the third since December 2019, saying that one other SIM Box operator arrested in January 2020 has been granted police enquiry bail, while the operators of another SIM Box syndicate whose premises were raided and shut down in December 2019 are on the run.
The NCA attributed the bust to the detection by the Fraud Management component of the Common Platform, saying the system initially detected numbers used to illegally terminate international inbound calls as local calls.
“Further investigations in collaboration with the mobile network operators (MNOs) led to the detection of the location of the SIM Box devices,” it added.
The statement said the NCA, GRA, KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service are continuing with their investigations and will issue further details about the current arrests later.
The Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act, 2009, Act 786 established the minimum rate for international incoming voice calls at US$0.19 through the licensed international gateways.
The use of SIM Boxes to bypass the legal routes for terminating calls in Ghana leads to loss of revenue and taxes to both the state and MNOs. It is therefore a criminal offence to operate a SIM Box for the purposes of terminating international calls in Ghana.
SIM Box fraud is what makes international calls coming to Ghana appear on people’s phone screens as local calls, and that way, the fraudsters get to keep the huge difference between the international call rate and the local call rate, while deny the state and MNOs money.
By law, offenders are liable to penalties that range from fines to terms of imprisonment.
The statement said the NCA and GRA working with KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service are committed to detecting and apprehending SIM Box fraudsters in the country.