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The government and telecom operators are said to be losing about $40 million every year in revenue to subscriber identification modules (SIM) box fraudsters who have found the country an attractive destination to perpetrate their crime.

The phenomenon, according to industry players, resulted from the 19 cents per minute charge imposed on all in-bound international traffic by the National Communications Authority (NCA).

They have, therefore, urged a reduction in the per minute charge to make it unattractive to the fraudsters.

The NCA has, consequently, called on the  telecommunications companies, to present proposals for an amendment of the Electronic Communication Amendment Act (Act 786), which mandates all the operators to charge that amount, of which the government retains six cents.

The Director of Engineering at the NCA, Mr Henry Kanor, made this known at the maiden Telecom Industry Breakfast Dialogue Series, initiated by the Network of Communications Reporters (NCR), in collaboration with the NCA and the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications in Accra yesterday.

It was on the theme, “Fighting Sim-Boxing: The Policy Options”, and was aimed at setting the stage for players in the industry to explain what the real issues were and the way forward in fighting SIM box fraud in the country.

SIM Box fraud is a system by which some unscrupulous persons re-route international calls coming to Ghana through some boxes in which they have inserted local SIM cards. They terminate the calls using those SIM cards to make the calls appear as local calls.

Collaboration

Mr Kanor said though the regulator was bound to implement the law, once the industry players had a challenge with it, they needed to make proposals for an amendment to reduce the rate.

He said the NCA was open to dialogue at all times to ensure that players in the industry were comfortable to deliver the required services and to make the industry more vibrant.

He said collaboration between the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, the NCA and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, had led to the arrest and prosecution of a number of illegal operators, adding that although the authority had instituted several measures to fight and eliminate the menace, the fraudsters kept modifying their techniques and technologies to evade detection.

Sophistication

The Head of Legal and Prosecution at the CID, Supt Francis Baah, corroborated Mr Kanor’s statement by reiterating that Sim box fraud was becoming more sophisticated, as the criminals had devised ways to outwit the special task force formed to combat the fraud.

Supt Baah said so far the CID had prosecuted six sim box fraud cases at the High Court, with only one conviction, and called for a specialised court to handle cases of that nature.

The Dean of the NCR, Mr Charles Benoni Okine for his part said revenue losses to the government and the telecom players as a result of SIM box fraud, was unacceptable and urged the stakeholders to critically consider ways to end the fraud, as it had been done in other jurisdictions such as Nigeria.

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