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AIRTEL SIM-CARD FRAUD SCANDAL: UCC Demands Answers as Security Agencies Accuse Telecom of Aiding Terrorism

The dust raised by Airtel Uganda’s failure to comply with sim-card registration procedures is yet to settle with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) launching a comprehensive investigation into the scandal.

In a letter dated February 20, UCC Executive Director Eng Godfrey Mutabazi asked Airtel to furnish the Commission with a “detailed report” regarding particulars of the sim-cards which security say are used by criminals.

The Airtel lines being used by criminals in Mobile Money fraud and criminals seeking ransom from relatives of kidnapped civilians are 0754726842, 0759590647, 0759590674, 0751229471, 0759259730, 0751115388, 0751229473, 0751517819, 0759249058, 0753447942, 0752410752, and 0752281308.

“The Commission has received a complaint from the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance alleging that the Airtel numbers are actively being used on the Airtel Network without being properly registered in accordance with the law,” said Mutabazi.

“The purpose of this letter therefore, is to require Airtel Uganda Ltd to furnish the Commission with a detailed report on each of the numbers,” he emphasised.

The report on the sim-cards has to include the registration status and Know Your Consumer (KYC) information including the National Identification Numbers, photos and identification particulars of the users.

KYC is the process of a business identifying and verifying the identity of its clients.

Mutabazi also demanded a “fully updated call data report” and mobile money statements of the Sim-cards numbers.

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Terrorism

It all started with security agencies alerting Minister Frank Tumwebaze about the existence of the sim-cards being used by ransom seekers. Ransom payments finance terrorist groups across the world.

Tumwebaze responded by ordering Mutabazi to commence investigations into the matter as the unregistered sim-cards remained active.

Officials told this investigative website that Airtel’s failure to manage the issuance of its sim-cards was aiding criminals to terrorize the citizens using the telecommunications network and disappearing without trace.

It is understood top officials from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence availed the Minister with an intelligence report containing 12 numbers being used by ransom seekers for the last two years.

One of the lines was traced and found to have been issued by an unauthorized female dealer in Salaama, Makindye Division, Kampala.

The political leadership and intelligence community want UCC to penalize Airtel for the mess which they say continues to pose a national security threat.

The Airtel Public Relations Manager, Faith Bagonza declined to comment on the matter.

“Kindly, I have no comment for now. I am getting everything as news from you,” she said.

In his letter, Mutabazi reminded Airtel of the Commission’s numerous orders to “telecom operators to ensure that all their telecommunication service customers are duly registered” in accordance with sections 9 (1) (a) of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010 and Registration of Persons Act 2015.

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