Call masking, SIM boxing fraud costs Nigeria $ 3 billion
The Nigerian Communications Commission said lost revenue for call masking and SIM boxing activities in the country amounted to $3bn.
Telecom operators complained at the 85th edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament in Lagos on Thursday about losing 2.5 million minutes a day on these fraudulent activities.
Speaking on the commission’s response to the threat, NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta, said the NCC had strengthened the process of registering SIM cards to reduce the availability of cards. identification of subscribers for SIM boxing as well as address security issues around the availability of pre-registered SIM cards.
According to him, the action was necessary because some arrests made in Lagos two weeks ago showed that the perpetrators of boxing SIM had registered more than 100 SIM cards with fictitious names and used them to divert international calls.
Call masking or refilling is a practice in which international calls are terminated in Nigeria as local numbers, using illegal multi-numbered SIM boxes.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Mrs Felicia Owuegbuchulam, also urged the public to report cases to the commission for investigation and necessary enforcement action.
He explained that the investigations revealed that the practice started in September 2016 when the commission had reviewed and implemented the international inbound termination rate of N3.9 per minute at N24.4 per minute.
He added, “What is happening is a clear indication that some unscrupulous elements want to continue to fraudulently profit from the earlier lopsidedness in the international termination rate, which we had before the 2016 review.
“Also, the commission is in the process of choosing the best from the list of technology solutions used in other countries to block the devices, track and apprehend the culprits.”
Danbatta described call masking as a serious challenge for the telecommunications sector and an economic and security threat to the country and consumers.
NCC Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Ms. Yetunde Akinloye, pointed out that by August of this year, the commission had seen a 45% reduction in call masking and 25% in boxing SIM in July.
Speaking at the forum, an MTN representative, Olumayowa Oloyede, pointed out that virtually all operators lose between 500 minutes and 2.5 million minutes to call masking.
In an effort to find a lasting solution to the threat, Oloyede said the company is testing the technology solutions of companies that have submitted proof of concept to the NCC.
Sharing the 9mobile’s experiences on the issue, a company representative, Chidozie Arinze, said the company was able to detect and block 1,000 lines suspected of being used daily in call masking.
He added that the masking of the calling line identity, which is often done by companies registered with the NCC, was easier to detect than the boxing SIM.
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