Nigeria’s Telecom Industry Loses $3b in Revenue to Call Masking Issues

Nigeria's Telecom Industry Loses $3b In Revenue To Call Masking Issues Says NCC

The Nigerian telecom sector loses about $3 billion in revenue to call masking, refilling and SIM boxing issues. The NCC called the issue one of the biggest frauds occurring in the telecom industry.

Call masking and refilling are techniques used to allow SMS to be sent or calls to be made to people without revealing the identity of the sender or caller. Call masking occurs when an international calling number is cloaked as a local number. The practice helps to hide user identity and location, perhaps for privacy reasons. This seems innocent enough?

However, call masking and refilling can also be used for dubious reasons. For instance, it can be used to extremely reduce call charges. It can also be used by fraudsters to avoid paying the true cost for international calls. The practice is used by fraudsters, kidnappers and other persons to commit crimes as well.

The NCC shares that call masking is perpetrated with small movable devices called SIM-boxes. Meanwhile, SIM-boxing involves using a device (SIM box) as part of a VoIP gateway installation to minimize the maintenance expenses in the network interconnect (connecting from one local/international network to another). It is also used in preventing a SIM from being blocked.

But since these SIM-boxes are never type-approved, the NCC says they are being used illegally in Nigeria.

NCC Says Call Masking Usage has Spiked Since 2016

Call masking is not a new problem in the telecom industry. The telecom regulatory body shares that the practice has increased noticeably since September 2016. This was the same time the NCC implemented a new price regime for international calls. It increased outgoing international call charges from N3.90/min to a staggering N24.40/min.

“So what is happening is a clear indication that some unscrupulous elements want to continue to fraudulently profit from the earlier lopsidedness in the International Termination Rate (ITR) which we had before the 2016 review”, NCC boss, Prof. Garba Danbatta said.

Of course, the NCC has quadrupled its efforts to control call making, refilling, and SIM boxing issues. In February, the regulatory body suspended the license of three telecom operators for allowing customers mask calls. It also barred 750,000 numbers used for call masking.

Presently, the regulatory body is reportedly working with several security agencies to dice the issue.


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