Glo mobile leads as channel for SIM card fraud

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has cited Glo Mobile Network for increasingly being used for international SIM box fraud in Ghana.

Statistics from the NCA indicate that there has been a dramatic increase in fraudulent SIMs from around 2,500 in January, 2013, to nearly 30,000 in August, 2013.

This has put Glo in the lead with the highest number of fraudulent bypass activities, terminating international call traffic on other mobile operators’ platforms, thereby causing huge financial losses to the government and other operators.

However, officials of Glo say it is not Glo, as an institution, which is perpetrating the fraudulent activities but that they are the handiwork of fraudsters who have taken advantage of the low congestion, high speed Internet connectivity, low cost of charges and the freebies offered by the company on its platform to its clients.

Moreover, the officials of Glo say the company is losing more, as it is not gaining anything from the international calls but have to pay other operators who end up receiving those calls purportedly emanating from Glo.

They described SIM box fraud as the telecom ‘galamsey’ eating deep into revenues of telecom operators.

SIM box fraud is an illegal process in which some unscrupulous persons in Ghana connive with partners abroad to re-route international calls and terminate them through a local phone number in Ghana to make it appear as if the all is a local one and, therefore, pay lower rates.

A highly placed source at the NCA told the Daily Graphic that the authority was in discussions with Glo Mobile to ensure compliance with laid down policies and directives regarding the menace.

“Our team of investigators uncovered that out of the number of SIM bypass activities exposed, Glo Mobile’s share of the fraud accounted for more than 80 per cent since May, 2012,” it said.

It indicated that the NCA recently directed Glo to disable within one hour “all SIMs detected by the authority or other mobile network operators which are being used for the fraudulent activities”.

It said Glo was also directed to ensure that only registered SIM cards verified by the NCA were activated for use.

It said the work of the NCA anti¬management task force, in collaboration with the police, was yielding improvement, with the trend showing a gradual reduction in SIM box fraud on the part of the other operators, with the exception of Glo.

Industry experts the Daily Graphic spoke to described the level of SIM fraud as unprecedented, considering the fact that Glo’s current market share of telephony service was 1,633,379, representing only 6% of the total market share.

They wondered why Glo Mobile, the latest entrant into the Ghanaian telecom market, with the smallest market share in terms of the 3G mobile technology, could not manage its subscriber base such that a large number of its SIMs could be used for fraud of such enormous proportion.

Responding to the issues, officials of Glo told the Daily Graphic that the company was more interested in stemming the menace of SIM box fraud than any institution could imagine.

According to them, the fraudsters were taking undue advantage of the fact that the network was new, with a low clientele, high-speed Internet connectivity, low cost of charges and freebies.

They said the NCA was aware of the efforts Glo had been making to deal with the problem, including de-activating identifiable SIM cards even before that came to the attention of the NCA.

“We have a system to monitor fraudulent activities, including SIM box fraud, but we are not firmly entrenched on the market to deal with these fraudsters,” they said.

Daily Graphic

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