As the perpetual incidents of call-masking continue to pervade Nigeria’s telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) plans to combat the problem once and for all by deploying a technological solution which will help track down the SIM boxes that facilitate the crime.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta made this known while addressing members of the House Committee on financial crime who recently visited the NCC office in Abuja.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Kayode Oladele, had used the occasion to express concerns over the menace and the dangers it poses to Nigeria’s security. In response, Professor Danbatta stated that the issue of call-masking is not a particular issue in the Nigerian telecoms industry.
However, he acknowledged that much needs to be done to address the problem, even as he went further to disclose that a technical team has been instituted and charged with the responsibility of tracking down and confiscating the SIM boxes that are used for the perpetration of the fraud.
He further stated that SIM boxes are illegal and that the agency does not approve of their use in Nigeria. It is, therefore, surprising how such types of equipment manage to come into the country in the first place.
SIM boxes are electronic devices which have the capacity to receive and transmit calls.
“We are at a loss how these items of equipment find their way into this country because we don’t type-approve them, and we couldn’t have type-approved them. It’s illegal to bring SIM boxes into the country,” – Danbatta
A look at NCC’s perennial and somewhat futile fight against call-masking
This is not the first time the NCC is making known its commitment to fight against call-masking and all kinds of telecoms fraud. In August 2017, the agency said that will penalise telecoms operators that are involved in call masking and call refilling.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the agency went ahead to sanction/suspend some telecoms operator for call-masking related offences.
Unfortunately, it appears that the NCC is yet to deal with this problem despite the fact that it has “taken some steps to ensure that operators licensed by the commission abstain from the act.”
Call-masking is a criminal activity in which is aimed at defrauding the unknowing recipient(s). It involves a situation whereby a caller’s true identity is hidden by the network provider, especially during international calls.
The National Communications Commission believes that call-masking and refilling constitutes a security risk for the country seeing as most Nigerians are often threatened, blackmailed and extorted through phone calls that cannot be traced to anybody.