Vodafone and Police bust another SIM Box fraud

Vodafone Ghana and others have busted yet another group of SIM Box fraudsters at Sakumono in Accra months after a similar operation involving Vodafone Ghana led to the bust of some fraudulent SIM Box equipment worth over $200,000 at Teshie in Accra.

The recent operation, carried out by personnel of Vodafone Ghana, the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, Joint Anti Fraud Task Force of the National Communications Authority and Vodafone Ghana led to the arrest of a 64-year old British Computer Programmer and Analyst, Mike Andrew Hayward and a 28-year old Ghanaian accomplice, Innocent Kojo Amenz.

The team discovered the fraudsters had a highly sophisticated operating centre with automated standby generators around the Sakumuno Community Hospital.

They also recovered two hyper media SIM box equipments each having 160 SIM cards slots and, a large quantity of SIM cards.

Director of Corporate Integrity and Risk at Vodafone Ghana, Ashley Ratcliffe told journalists 50 per cent of the SIM cards recovered were Vodafone cards, 20 per cent were Airtel and another 20 per cent were MTN cards whiles the remaining 10 per cent were Tigo cards.

Ashley Ratcliffe said the operation followed months of surveillance in the Greater-Accra region to track the activities of SIM Box fraudsters.

“This is just another evidence of Vodafone’s taking leadership in ridding the society of the activities of SIM box operators – we are very committed to collaborating with the Ghana Police Service and the National Communications Authority,” he said.

He said Vodafone was very proud and excited about the bust because the total revenue lost to the state as a result of SIM Box fraud stood at about GHS 2.3 million per month.

“This is the fourth successful SIM operation held in the last twelve months,” he said.

Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu acknowledged that SIM Box fraud busts so far have saved the country some $40 million in taxes and even much more revenue for the telecom operators.

He noted that the fraudster take advantage of unregistered SIM cards to perpetrate their fraud because they know the numbers cannot be traced.

The Minister said when Parliament resumes he would lay the Bill for the Legislation on SIM Card Registration to compel the operators to register their members and provide periodic data on their customers to the NCA so registered numbers could be monitored to prevent fraud.

SIM box is a device that routes call from Voice Over internet protocol (VoIP) to a SIM card so that international call terminates as a domestic call to subscriber country and usually cheap compared to the cost of terminating the international call.

This leads to great loss of revenue for both telecom operators and the country.

At the global level, SIM Box fraud led to a loss of $150 million in 2010 alone.