In line with efforts to clamp down on the operations of SIM box fraudsters, the Anti-Telecom Fraud Task Force has arrested seven more persons for allegedly diverting international calls through SIM box machines mounted in their rooms.
The operations of the two Syrians, a Pakistani and four Ghanaians in Tema and Accra, which were uncovered by the task force, are said to have resulted in a $21,915,360 revenue loss to the state.
Those arrested are Abdul Karem Al-Sabai, 35, and Mohanad Hamoud Agnah, 33, both Syrians, and Mohammed Nassar Aziz, 35, a Pakistani.
The Ghanaians are Samuel Adu Amoako, Emmanuel Mensah Boamah, Clement Nartey and Christopher Nartey.
The Nartey brothers have since been granted bail.
The task force is made up of officials of the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, representatives of all the telecommunications service providers and Subah Infosolutions.
A total of 2,395 SIM cards of mostly Airtel, Vodafone, Tigo and MTN networks were retrieved. Other items found by the police included pot SIM box machines, laptops, generating sets, mobile phones, Internet routers, a Motorola router and internal antennae.
Suspects hide from cameras
At a press briefing yesterday, the five suspects prevented journalists from taking pictures of them as they covered their faces with handkerchiefs and their hands.
Briefing journalists, the Director-General of the CID, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr Prosper Agblor, said the activities of SIM box fraudsters nationwide “are still a great concern.”
Through investigations, he said, the police established that Al-Sabai, a marketer, and Agnah, a computer engineer, entered Ghana with tourist visas but ended up in the illegal business without resident permits.
Their six-month illegal operation, he said, cost Ghana $787,968 in terms of revenue.
He said the suspects were arrested on March 19, 2015 in a rented apartment at Abelemkpe in Accra.
On March 21, 2015, Mr Agblor said, the task force apprehended two brothers near the Tema Fishing Harbour who had been allegedly engaging in the SIM box fraud for the past six months.
Their operations caused the country a revenue loss of $393,984, while the operations of Boamah at Kweiman, near Oyarifa, is said to have led to a loss of $16,005,600.
Boamah, who is suspected to have been operating for six years but has been eluding the task force was finally arrested on March 31, 2015.
Mr Agblor said the Pakistani, Aziz, and his Ghanaian counterpart, Amoako, who claimed to be a member of the Ghana-Italy Chamber of Commerce, were arrested at Tema Community 18 on April 2, 2015 with a high capacity SIM box.
Their six months operation caused a revenue loss of $4,727,808.
SIM Box tracing device
Mr Agblor said the task force used a SIM Box detecting device to track the operations of the suspects who were found to have mainly received international voice traffic from China which were routed to Ghana through the SIM box system.
He explained that with the sophisticated systems, the suspects were enabled the calls to bypass the national gateway, hence depriving the government of revenue from such calls.
He said by terminating international calls, the suspects with the help of their gadgets succeeded in making the calls appear as local calls on the recipients’ phone.
“The actions of the suspects also interfered with sending, transmitting, delivery and reception of communication in Ghana.”
Smuggled gadgets and paymasters
During investigations, Mr Agblor said the Ghanaian brothers confessed that they had been engaged in the illegal business for the past three months and that the equipment was brought to them by their employers identified only as Tony, based in China.
The Syrians, he said, mentioned a Lebanese national, Nour Higazi, based in Beirut, as their leader who had been paying them a monthly wage of $1000 each.
Source: Daily Graphic
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