Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper Kwesi Pratt has dismissed suggestions that high call rates by the telcos serve as a motivation for SIMbox fraud in the country.

He said no matter how high the rates are, no one should perpetrate a crime that would make the country lose millions of cedis.

Speaking on Peace FM's morning show ‘Kokrokoo’ in the wake of the SIMbox fraud bust, Mr Pratt said “nothing can justify SIMbox fraud.”

An anti-fraud collaboration between the security agencies and telecom service providers in the country yesterday led to the arrest of some persons involved in a SIMBox fraud in Ghana.

A headline-grabbing arrest was that of the former President of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, (GREDA) Dr Alexander Tweneboah. 

In the wake of the bust, some people have said the only way to deal with SIMbox fraud in the country is to bring international call charges as low as local ones.

But Mr Pratt said it will be absurd for international call rates to be fixed at the local rate. He questioned how low consumers want the call rates to be when the rates have already been reduced.

He said instead of making excuses and allowing the crime to continue, the best way to deal with the situation is to ensure that all persons involved in the illegal operations of SIMBoxing, are arrested and prosecuted in accordance with law.

According to him, the recent compulsory registration of SIM cards meant to track the identity of any mobile service subscriber has been compromised because as the expose revealed, one person can have access to 21,000 SIM cards.

A total war on SIMBoxing must be declared if the country is to save for itself and the telecom operators the large sums of money being stolen through the illegal activities of the fraudsters, he said.

He congratulated the team of police officers and all the institutions involved in the arrest of the fraudsters.

Between October 2010 and August 2014,13 SIMbox fraud cases were recorded, resulting in the arrest of 17 suspects made up of Ghanaians and foreign nationals.

One of the key players, an Italian arrested in connection with SIM box fraud, was tried and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, while the other cases are pending before the courts.

In recent times, fraudulent SIM Box operations have gained prominence in many parts of the world especially in Africa. The fraud takes place when individuals or organisations 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.