RIB arrests Ugandan national over SIM Box fraud

On 15 August 2018 at 05:00

Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has arrested Ugandan Nabide Majidu who was allegedly carrying a SIM Box from Kampala to Kigali.

SIM Box commonly known as SIM Bank is a device that converts international phone calls into local calls by bypassing local telecommunication companies.

Via its Twitter account, RIB stated yesterday that its investigators had arrested Majidu in Kigali carrying a SIM Box from a Somali national who lives in Kampala, Uganda.

“The suspects claimed to have received the SIM Box from an unknown Somali from Kampala to hand it over to another yet to be identified person in Kigali/Nyabugogo at Rwf5,000 fee,” RIB tweeted, adding in another tweet that as investigation went on, the sender, a Somali who lives in Kampala was later identified as Djabil.

RIB states that, acting on a complaint filed by MTN Rwanda about the fraudulent activities going on in telephone calls coming from abroad, detectives have so far seized several SIM Boxes in Rusizi District and the City of Kigali.

The acting RIB Spokesperson, Modeste Mbabazi, told IGIHE on Tuesday that RIB has intensified crackdown on SIM Box fraud, adding that such fraud is on high increase and causes heavy losses to telecoms and the country.

“We have seized many SIM Boxing machines. We have arrested many fraudsters but the investigation continues in collaboration with other state organs to bring more fraudsters to book,” he said.

The Head of Revenue Assurance at MTN Rwanda, Eugene Manzi, told RIB that use of SIM Box causes heavy loss to telecoms.

He explained that a SIM Box fraud is a setup in which fraudsters install SIM boxes with multiple low-cost prepaid SIM cards. The fraudster can then terminate international calls through local phone numbers in the respective country to make it appear as if it is a local call.

Manzi said that when a call is for instance made from Europe to Rwanda, it requires carriers which are agents of sorts between the initiator and the recipient. With SIM Box, fraudsters can work with carriers giving them a cheaper rate than the telecom’s international calling rate and the carriers wire some money to the local fraudsters after a certain volume of calls.

For instance, if an international call is usually at Rwf50 per minute, the SIM Box fraudsters can connect it at Rwf20 and receive a kick-back from the carriers, making an international call register as a local.

Mbabazi warned the general public against attempting these crimes because they will face the law, adding that Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has recently acquired the technology to detect SIM boxing.

MTN Rwanda reports that the SIM-Boxing fraud has so far ripped it of millions of money while the telecom and RURA again lost huge amounts last year.