SIM Box syndicate costing nation US$1.9m/month busted at Tema

Officials of the National Communication Authority (NCA), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service, on Wednesday, 19 February 2020, arrested a SIM Box syndicate operating at Community Eleven, Tema, Greater Accra Region.

A total of eleven SIM Box equipment with the capability of using 352 SIM cards simultaneously, were retrieved from the premises of the syndicate, along with other illicit equipment used for criminal activity.

In a statement, the NCA estimated that an amount of US$1,938,816, in both revenue and taxes, have been lost per month assuming each device operated at an average of 18 hours per day.

The NCA, GRA, KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service are continuing with their investigations and will provide further details later, the NCA.

The raid is the third since December 2019.

One other SIM Box operator arrested in January 2020 has been granted police inquiry bail while the operators of another SIM Box syndicate whose premises were raided and shut down in December 2019, are on the run.

The fraud management component of the Common Platform detected numbers used to illegally terminate international in-bound 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.

The Electronic Communication (Amendment) Act, 2009, Act 786 established the minimum rate for international in-coming 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 a 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. Offenders are liable to penalties that range from fines to terms of imprisonment.

The NCA said it is working with the GRA, KelniGVG and the Ghana Police Service to bust SIM Box syndicates.