MTN Ghana Blames Airtel for $9M Simbox Fraud

It seems that old pal Nixon Wampamba cannot escape the evils of simboxes. Last December he was in the news after the arrest of eight fraudsters. This year, Nixon’s Airtel team is being described as ‘less vigilant’ than his Ghanaian peers… and indirectly held responsible for USD9M of simbox losses suffered by MTN Ghana between March and October; see here. According to the story:

Figures from the National Communication Authority (NCA) indicate that in September, 2011 alone, it detected 5,454 SIMS being used for SIM boxing, out of which 21 (0.39%) were Vodafone SIM cards, 64 (1.2%) were MTN and Tigo SIMs combined, and the remaining 5,369 (98.44%) were Airtel SIM cards.

When approached by the press, Nixon gave as good as he got, and managed to turn the tables on his would-be detractors by highlighting the expensive retail tariffs of competitors:

“Since we launched our 8-8 flat tariffs the SIM Box fraudsters have gravitated to Airtel, so maybe if any telecom operator beats our rates, then they may also have the SIM Box fraudster gravitating towards them…”

Nixon went on to say:

“It is true that our SIMs still remain the most attractive to fraudsters due to affordability, but I can tell you that over time the NCA’s detection of Airtel numbers in SIM Boxes has reduced from about 500 a day to 100 day – a clear sign that we are winning against the fraudsters gradually…”

Both Nixon and the fraudsters are engaged in a long and hard fight. Good luck to Nixon, and let us hope that by next December, Nixon will be enjoying better headlines.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

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