LTA Nabs 145 Illegal Calls on Novafone Network

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The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) says anti-fraud key indicators have uncovered illegal calls being made by Novafone SIM numbers to international numbers.

Maria Harrison, LTA International Gateway System Commissioner, said 145 calls, recorded in mid-August, out of the 196 were fraudulent, executed through a grey-routed Novafone SIM number.

According to Madam Harrison, it is more than two years since Novafone registered a grey routed number.

LTA key indicators were released during their monthly anti-fraud meeting with mobile network operators and showed a steady annual decline in fraudulently terminated calls to Liberia.

“In 2013, there were over 10,000 grey routed calls discovered, while 2016 figures through mid-August were around 1,500,” the LTA said.

According to a release, Network providers and the LTA have from time to time executed awareness campaigns to inform the public on how the scam works and how they would help to curtail the practice by reporting it.

Grey routing works when “Scammers use SIM Box equipment, which houses multiple unregistered SIM Cards… to bypass the system and redirect incoming international calls, thereby making them register as local numbers or calls. The purpose of this is to disguise the origin of the call and thus the revenue that would come to both government and the network providers,” the LTA said.

According to LTA, this scam has siphoned off hundreds and thousands of US dollars over the years.

The LTA and network providers have in place a system that captures the recording of calls that are redirected in this manner and urge the public to send in numbers they receive from international callers that appear local.

The LTA has urged the public to report grey routed numbers to 4739 or 4729 so they will be blocked.

Mobile network operators have been warned to keep numbers submitted to them through LTA for blocking; and blocked, unless specifically instructed in writing from LTA Chairperson, Angelique Weeks, to unblock them.

LTA Public Affairs Director Jarsea Burphy said over the weekend, “Commissioner Harrison asked that mobile network operators create a dedicated server for storing LTA submitted grey routed numbers and to set them clearly aside for administrative blockings, which refer to perhaps their internally processed commercial blockings.”

Burphy further said during the monthly meeting with network providers, there was no one representing Novafone at the meeting; however, Lonestar Cell MTN, the new parent company of Novafone, was in attendance.

Both Randolph Haligah, Public Relations Manager of Novafone, and Zenu Miller, Communications Manager for Lonestar Cell MTN, said the LTA did not communicate said information about the illegal calls to them. They both said this was their first time hearing about the grey routing scam on their network.

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