Sim Card Abuse Is A Cause Of Mobile Fraud

A music fan recently went to a concert, and while there, his cellphone was taken. Those who stole his phone were able to access his bank account within a few hours, send themselves millions of dollars, and withdraw the money right away.

When the incident was reported to the police, the person was informed that even though the sim cards on which the thieves sent money were fully registered, there wasn’t much that could be done because those who stole the money had since turned off the feature (small button, Kabiriti) phones that they used and were likely to have thrown away the sim cards, or lines as they are known in Uganda.

The unlucky victim of this situation was informed that situations like his are still being reported across the nation, with many of them staying unsolved because those registered numbers cannot be traced, while reporting this matter to police, his bank, and the telecom operator.

This kind of conundrum reveals the problem with sim card registration. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has mandated sim card registration for a number of years. All telecoms service providers are required under Section 9 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010 (RICA) to verify that any individual with whom they enter into a contract for the provision of telecommunication services is duly registered.

Regulation 7 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Instrument No. 42 of 2011 reiterates this responsibility and emphasizes that any individual attempting to engage into a contract for the supply of telecommunication services in Uganda must give identifying information.

Ugandans must have a national identity card to register, while foreigners must have a passport and a valid visa, and refugees must have a refugee identification card or an attestation letter from the Prime Minister’s Office. However, despite these laws being in place, registered sim cards enable widespread mobile phone crime.

According to Eng Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, acting executive director at UCC, the increase in mobile phone-related fraud coincides with Uganda’s implementation of continuous sim card registration.


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