Police and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in coordination with telecom operators conducted an operation in Kampala in which eight people were arrested for engaging in SIM boxing, a form of electronic fraud.
This was revealed on Monday in a joint press briefing held by both agencies at the police headquarters in Naguru Kampala.
According to UCC’s spokesperson Ibrahim Bossa, SIM boxing is an act of a person or group of people setting up a device that can take in several SIM cards and using the same to complete international calls received from the internet as voice over IP.
In this fraud, the calls are in turn served to the in-country mobile network subscribers as local traffic.
As such, the SIM boxer by passes the international call rates and often undercuts the tariffs charged by local mobile operators.
In the operation, police recovered over 1600 sim cards from four locations in Kampala, that is Masanafu, Kasubi, Nakawa and Clement Hill road in the centre of the city.
From clement hill road, Mr Bossa said the two suspects who were arrested are employees of one of the telecom companies located along that road which he did not mention.
“Interestingly, the suspects from clement hill road are people who are employees of a company who have taken these gadgets into the premises of the company without the company knowing. They are IT staff of the company but disguising illegal traffic within the organisation,” he said
He further revealed that some of the gadgets were found running at some locations saying that this form of fraud can also be remote controlled by the perpetuators.
Also among the suspects arrested were two suppliers of illegal Sim cards.
The suspects have been charged under the computer misuse act of 2011. which act provides for offences relating to misuse of computers, it also provides electronic fraud as an offence which arises whenever one uses a computer to commit fraud.
The communications monitoring agency further stated that this operation was important because the suspects had created a black market for Sim cards hence advising the public that whoever loses a Sim card should report immediately to police if not, the criminals can use the lost Sim card until when it is replaced.
Mr Bossa also noted that there are many cases that UCC has registered which are related to illegal registration of sim card and that such acts can be used to fuel crimes such as terrorism funding, Kidnaps among others.
However, the operation follows a high level meeting that was earlier this month held between the UCC and Uganda police force delegation which was led by the deputy inspector general of police Gen. Sabiiti Muzeeyi in which the main agenda was to device means on how to close gaps in the sim card registration process.
In the meet, Gen. Sabiiti was concerned about the numerous unregistered and wrongly registered sim cards which are in operation which he said have led to increase in crimes such as Kidnap, extortion, fraud and many more.
Members of the public have been advised to be extra cautious whenever they go to register their sim cards that there are unscrupulous agents who knowingly register multiple sim cards using unsuspecting individual’s details.
UCC said that some sim cards are lawfully registered but the owners do not know that extra sim cards are registered in the same names and are being used fraudulently.
To counter this, a code 197 was introduced for customers to safe verify how many sim cards are registered under their NINs.