The Visa and Documentation Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service uncovered one of the largest illegal SIM Box network operations at Gbawe, near Accra, at dawn last Friday.
The operation, carried out in collaboration with Subah Infosolutions Ghana Limited, resulted in the team retrieving 8,854 SIM cards used to facilitate grey routing of international calls.
The SIM cards, suspected to be unregistered, included 4,998 already used MTN, 1,694 Airtel, 88 Glo and 48 Tigo cards.
Cards which had not been used included 234 MTN, 1,290 Airtel, 200 Glo and 46 Tigo cards.
The team also retrieved two huge Sim Box machines loaded with 128 MTN and Airtel SIM cards each, three power batteries and an inverter.
Nobody was arrested.
A source close to the Visa Fraud and Documentation Unit of the CID told the Daily Graphic after the operation that the team was dispatched to Gbawe following a tip off that there was a suspicious operation of international call termination in the area.
It said the team carried out surveillance at Gbawe North with a special gadget that allowed it to search for signals to locate the exact location of the illegal activity.
According to the source, after three hours, a signal led the team to a container shop at a place popularly known as Winner at Gbawe North.
It said the team inquired about the owner of the shop from residents of a house close by and the owner told the team that a young man had rented the place from him to use as a mobile phone scratch card shop.
But nobody knew the young man.
Outwitting the police
The source said the owner of the house told the team that the young man who had rented the place opened the shop on a daily basis for a few weeks but after a while the shop was closed.
The shop, it said, was broken into, after which the team discovered that the equipment for terminating international calls had been mounted in it and concealed to make it difficult for visitors to know.
The unit, the source said, had observed that SIM Box fraudsters were trying to outwit the special task force which had been going after them by using remote controlled systems.
It explained that the new system allowed the SIM Box fraudsters to operate their machines from a distance without being physically present.
The police, it said, had launched full-scale investigations into the matter to ensure that those behind the operations were arrested and prosecuted.
As of July 2015, it was estimated that the illegal activity had since 2010 resulted in a loss of $52 million in revenue that should have been paid by service providers abroad to the state.