Ghana telecoms fights to curb simboxing menace

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Last year it was reported that Ghana looses $40 million through the sim box menace in the country with the direMobilePhonesAfricactor incharge of Engineering at Ghana’s National Communication Authority, Henry Kanora admitting it was problem in the country.

Telcos in the country are individually taking measures to curb the menace with MTN proposing the 19 cents minimum per minute of inbound international traffic to be removed as their solution after reporting reduction in revenue losses to simboxing.

Ghana Web reports that the MTN CEO revealed the reduction was significant having come from $800,000 to just about $100,000 a month which proved a downward trend. Only last month the telco
was losing an average of about GHS34million to SIMBOX fraud every year and the tax component government lost was GHS16million.

However, Taukobong said that while MTN employs very costly and tedious strategies in fighting simboximg there is an “unfair” charge and public perception that telcos like MTN are actually engaged in simboxing.

“Simboxing is costing both the telcos and government revenue and we employ a wide range of processes and strategies that cost us not less than $100,000 every month fighting it,” he said.

The CEO said the company uses call generation, data mining, and automated tools to fight SIMBOX fraud.  Active Detection – MTN Ghana is utilizing the services of two international vendors (SIGOS, and RAPTOR) that make test calls that help the MTN detect SIMboxes, Passive Detection –an analytical system (FraudBuster) with algorithms that are able to identify if the call behavior is from a SIMBOX or not and  SIMBOX Location – (LATRO Systems) to locate and disable SIMBOX operations and  Automated Blocking – MTN Ghana has employed automated systems that interface with the detection system to block detected SIMBOXes within 5 seconds for on-net (MTN to MTN call) and within 5 minutes for off-net (Other Network to MTN call) are some of the methods employed.

On the other hand, Tigo has employed a rather risky and tedious method which is a detective strategy and according to Chief Technical Officer of Tigo Ghana Obafemi Banigbe it is not a preventive one since it only realizes SIMBOX numbers once they have been in use for sometime.
“We have algorithms that determine particular numbers being used in a pattern over a period of time and we use that to determine which numbers need to be blocked. Those numbers are put in what we call A Number Blocking List, which is a list of Tigo numbers blacklisted from originating calls on our network,” he said.

The CTO however added that once the fraudtsers detects that they are not able to call with those Tigo numbers, they just remove them from the simbox and buy new SIM cards. A disadvantage is that some oprtaors use the numbers for a long period before they are finally blocked because there is need to determine there is a pattern relating to those numbers.

“But you can be sure that once we confirm a Tigo number in a simboxing activity on our network it will be blocked in 15 minutes and we report the numbers which are not Tigo numbers to the respective operators who have two hours by law to block the. Within those two hours the number continues to be used for simboxing,” he said.