A joint operation mounted by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Telecommunications company Airtel and the Uganda Police has led to the arrest of six individuals involved in SIM boxing.
SIM Box fraud is where an operator routes international calls through the Voice over IP (VoIP) connection and connects the call as local traffic.
It’s done using a device known as the SIM box.
A SIM box contains a number of SIM cards, which are linked to the gateway but housed and stored separately from it.
It can have SIM cards of different mobile operators installed, permitting it to operate with several GSM gateways located in different places.
This allows the box’s operator to bypass international rates and often undercut prices charged by local mobile network operators.
According to UCC publicist, Pamela Ankunda, the operation was started following a tip off from Airtel who had intercepted an uncharacteristic call from United Kingdom to Uganda.
She said the call was strange because “on the receiver’s handset, it indicated a local dialing code yet the caller was abroad and their phones were not roaming.”
It’s at this time that the Police was noticed and the operation launched.
“We laid traps where Airtel would be signaled whenever such a call was made leading us to some of the culprits,” said UCC head of legal services, Abudu Salamu Waiswa at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
The scam is believed to have costed telecommunication companies a lot of revenues especially from international calls.
According to Waiswa, revenues from the calls are diverted to the accounts of fraudsters and the local receiving telecoms don’t get any.
The six, according to Waiswa were arrested from Masanafu, a Kampala surburb.
This is the first time sim boxing has appeared to the public domain in Uganda although it doesn’t rule out the possibility that it has existed for some time.
The act is however very common in neighbouring Kenya, dating from as far as more than 10 years back.
In Uganda, only Airtel has reported cases of SIM boxing.