FIVE GHANAIANS and a Nigerian have been arrested for terminating international calls to deny government of millions of cedis.
The suspects are Ogunsanya Olawale, a 45-year-old Nigerian resident in Ghana, 17-year-old Iddrisu Mahmoud and his father, Osmanu Musah, Nasiru Osman, 32, Jibrim Mohammed, 36 and Michael Asamoah, 34.
Ogunsanya Olawale, who is believed to be the leader of the group, was picked up after his lieutenant Michael Asamoah was arrested by a team of officers from the Criminal of Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service in collaboration with the National Communications Authority (NCA) Anti Fraud Taskforce.
The taskforce, which undertook the unannounced swoop to arrest the suspects, was made up of officials from the main telecommunication operators, Vodafone Ghana, MTN, Tigo, Airtel and Glomobile.
Commissioner of Police (COP) Prosper Kwame Agblor, Director General of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), briefing the media in Accra on Thursday, said the suspects have been engaged in the illegal business since January 2013. An analysis by the NCA indicated the illegal operation cost government and the telecommunication service providers GH¢80 each day.
“Therefore for the past six months, the total loss is about GH¢40,000,000,” the CID boss said.
Call termination also affects call quality since the illegal operators use SIM boxes to bypass calls, which enable them to reroute incoming international calls through local SIM cards. One Michael Asamoah was the first suspect to be arrested at Asylum Down and his room was immediately searched, hesaid.
The authorities retrieved one branded Tele-I gate SIM box server capable of holding 2,000 SIM cards from his room. They moved to a shop at Abossey Okai, a suburb of Accra and seized five SIM box machines that hold 16 SIMs. Other equipment retrieved from the shop included a big UPS, four large batteries and a number of mini antennas.
Preliminary investigations, according to the CID boss, disclosed that the machines were given to Micheal by his Nigerian counterpart.
The taskforce later extended the operation to Nima, a suburb of Accra where four suspects were arrested. They were using SIM box machines, eight batteries, four UPS and two hypermedia SIM boxes to undertake their operations.
“All the SIM box machines were loaded with Glo SIM cards. The machines were active and operating when the police arrived,” said Mr Agbloh.
The CID Director General reminded unscrupulous persons engaged in the illegal business “that their acts amount to economic sabotage and that the long arm of the law will soon catch up with them.”
Mr Ablorh said the police was using GPS system to monitor the operations of such fraudsters. Theophilus Botwe, Anti- Fraud Manager of Vodafone told Daily Guide that government charges 19 cents per minute for international calls
“but these guys use the internet to advertise cheaper rates as low as three or four cents per minute, and then the money is sent to them through international bank transfers.”
Mr. Botwe said “they use few genuine ID cards to register the many SIM cards which they use in their operations.”
Six suspects have been charged with illegal termination of calls and money laundering and would be put before an Accra High Court.
Source: Emelia Ennin Abbey
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