...Says operators engage in huge capital flight, tax evasion
…Narrates how operators keep huge revenue offshore
…Slams NCC for poor regulatory framework in tacking the menace
Following a report by The Daily Times on International calls fraud, and how the operators across borders connived with the fraudsters to defraud innocent victims in Nigeria, a telecom expert has raised concern on the danger of the trend in Nigeria’s economy.
The telecoms expert, Mr. Peter Elofusim, cited the advent of technological advancement as one of the major factors that drive the fraud in the telecoms sector.
The Daily Times had exclusively reported on Wednesday that some people in the country have now taken their fraudulent act to a new dimension by using foreign telephone numbers to call people’s phones locally, pretending to be calling from outside the country or a person calling from overseas countries, using Nigeria’s local telephone number to appear as if he is calling from outside the country.
According to The Daily Times findings, the international calls termination fraud generates what is also called International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF).
The IRSF is, without a doubt, both the most damaging and the most prevalent VoIP telecom fraud scenario. Revenue share fraudulent activities are those which abuse carrier interconnect agreements.
Reacting to the trend, Elofusim said such an organised global fraud is made possible because technology has now made it possible for calls to be made from several social media platforms: WhatsApp, Facebook, imo, and call applications like boss revolution, textnow and eleclub.
According to him, with these platforms, the world is boundaryless.
The expert noted that “now, these platforms are presently eating into the revenue of the traditional operators all over the world”.
He said that by 2020, Facebook is going to be the biggest telephone company and the biggest bank in the world.
The telecom expert further warned that with the current trend, “the traditional telecom companies as you see them today will die.
It’s disruption that can not be stopped. The smart ones will transit to purely data companies.”
He further said: “Now let’s come back home, and look at what we call international call fraud to the uninitiated or non professional.
“Today, we have four major telecom companies, MTN, GLO, Etisalat and Airtel. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recommended rate for Nigerian bound calls is about N24 per minute.
“While the calls originating within and across the networks is charged at about N4 per minute. It’s a common knowledge that all the money paid to the operators on the international calls by carriers outside Nigeria are not declared by the operators to the local authorities for tax assessment.
“That is a huge capital flight and tax evasion. This, to me, is international call fraud”.
According to him, the next phase of the fraud is that these operators manipulate the number to appear as a local call so that they can pay the receiving network, local rate.
“They are engaged in a battle of wits with each other. This is the second angel of the fraud.
“So presently, the implication on tax is not because it is happening but because there is no mechanism to monitor what the 4 operators generate and make monthly and the fact that they do not declare it to the Nigerian government,” he added.
Elofusim suggested that a system of monitoring this international call fraud should be put in place and ensuring that the revenue is tracked effectively by the government for the purposes of assessment.
But he said the noble objective is been bugged down by bureaucracy and politics by the regulatory authority – NCC, which the expert described as “a failure.”
“Therein lies the failure of NCC. The NCC should as a matter of urgency implement this solution and get the credit for generating revenue far in excess of what the federal government is making from oil.
“Now let me reiterate this for a short time. Telecom Technology will soon erode it. The whole revenue is kept offshore by all of them.”
When The Daily Times called the NCC’s Director of Public Affairs and Communication, Mr Tony Ojobo, he did not answer the several telephone calls at press time.
He also did not reply to text and WhatsApp messages sent to him on the position of the Commission on the alarming fraud.