The Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) has launched Anti-Fraud Grey Routes throughout Liberia and seeks a partnership with the media and the general public in the fight against the use of SIM Boxes in fraudulent grey calls.
Making the disclosure recently at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Marie G. Harrison, member of the Board of Commissioners, said the issue of SIM Boxes fraud was a serious problem which was causing the Liberian people thousands in revenue losses.
She explained that many people were receiving overseas calls appearing on the phone as local numbers, causing the Government of Liberia to lose revenues as the calls were not being paid for or monitored by the LTA.
“Those calls you received are illegally routed calls. The connection between you and the caller was illegally routed away from the GSM providers and government controls; hence the inability of either the GSM companies or the LTA to assess revenue on them.”
According to her, all the international calls that appear as local numbers on phones give money to the criminals and causes revenue loss to the government of Liberia.
The perpetrators were using what is referred to as SIM Box and making such money without the knowledge of the GSM and the Liberian government.
“This is a piece of equipment the size of a DVD player, which can house dozens of SIM Cards, most of them not being registered with the service provider. This setup is connected to the internet and in coordination with independent overseas telecommunications carriers who route calls to Liberia looking for the least cost route.”
Commissioner Harrison stressed that SIM Box fraudsters can offer cheaper rates because they are not a legal entity and have no overhead costs, nor do they pay any taxes to government.
She disclosed that the LTA, in partnership with the County Attorney’s office and the Ministry of Justice, including the Liberia National Police (LNP), have arrested SIM Box operators in the past and they are awaiting prosecution through the Ministry of Justice.
“Over US$400,000 was lost in revenue from minutes tabulated in just one of the raids. We will have billboards up shortly to reinforce the importance of the operation and numbers received, which will be verified by the LTA team and sent to the respective GSM operator to block.”
Madam Harrison used the occasion to urge whistleblowers that are aware of possible SIM Box operations to come forward and inform the LTA. They will be rewarded for their efforts made. “This is a national effort and we call on the media to help in disseminating the message to the public.
She called on the public to send a free text message to the LTA using the short codes, GRAY (4729) or GREY (4739) if local numbers appear from international calls.