Govt warns on fraudulent SIM cards

2011-07-05 12:38

Johannesburg - Cellphone users should not be tempted to buy pre-registered SIM cards from traders because they contravene Rica legislation, the department of communications warned on Tuesday.

"It's illegal to buy any SIM card and get connected on any network without being requested to produce the required documentation, which is the proof of residence and identity document," said spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso.

"To my knowledge, no criminal case has been opened so far," he said, adding that the department had learned of the crime through the media.

Newspapers have reported that traders in Sunnyside and Arcadia, in Tshwane, were selling pre-registered SIM cards for about R20 a card.

Wrinkle in the Rica Act

These allowed cellphone owners to bypass the registration process which required documentation.

"The people selling the SIMs are people who are hellbent on breaking the law to make a profit," said Rikhotso.

He said residents should report the crime to the police so the perpetrators could be pursued.

Service provider Vodacom said there was a "wrinkle" in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) process, as people were registering multiple SIM cards.

"The registration of multiple SIMs is allowed, as many people use multiple mobile devices," said spokesperson Richard Boorman.

"We have no way to know what happens to the movement of SIMs between customers once they are registered."

800 000 Vodacom customers not Rica'd

Vodacom said it did not condone the sale of pre-registered SIM cards.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that SIM cards are registered according to the Rica Act, which involves confirming in person the [identity document] and address of the customer registering the SIM(s)," said Boorman.

"Any infringement of the Rica Act, such as reselling SIMs registered to other people, is a matter for the police," Cell C agreed.

By Tuesday morning, about 800 000 Vodacom customers had still not Rica'd and their SIM cards were disconnected.

Three percent of Cell C prepaid customers and 0.01% of its contract customers had not registered.

All of 8ta's customers had registered.

MTN spokesperson Bridget Bhengu was not immediately available for comment.

  • ZumaDooma - 2011-07-05 12:51

    "people who are hellbent on breaking the law to make a profit"... why not look at government instead of the poor vendors trying anything to make ends meat.

      Frungy - 2011-07-05 13:11

      RICA is just a plain idiocy. Billions of rands down the drain in terms of wasted time and unnecessary paperwork and administration (and no, this isn't an exaggeration) and I'll bet anyone R 10 000 that the next set of crime figures (ones from an independent international NPO, not the "massaged" official ANC figures) will show absolutely NO decrease in crime.

      BigD - 2011-07-05 13:30

      @frungy. This is just another attempt to control the people in SA. Why do they want all our details. The aarto act, no rica there. The Gov has no idea who owns or drives what.

      Virginia - 2011-07-05 13:49

      ZumaDooma, people are silly anyway, you can buy a starter pack for as low as 5c at CNA and they RICA it for you, so why waste you time spending R20.00 on something that is illegal.

      Xavier - 2011-07-05 14:10

      @bigd As your names says, you are a big d**s. The government knows who drives what, How do you think you get your speed fines in the mail? When you register the car on your name, you have to provide proof of residence.

  • MandlaSithole - 2011-07-05 12:51

    There's something that keeps telling me that crime will still continue as normal. This Rica law will only be an inconvinience to the people not doing crime. Just a hunch...

      Virginia - 2011-07-05 13:51

      Mandala this RICA is only you giving the Government persmission to listen into your calls if they have to and to extract a copy of your telephone account from your network, so if you live a good life dont worry about it.

      Linus - 2011-07-05 14:06

      Virginia - one other thing; my company went bust due to no fault of mine but thanks to the transport workers strike just before the world cup. So my cell contract came to grinding halt and I had to go pay as you go. Then just after I did the Rica on my new number an attorney called me looking for a little bit of money I owed a company - and the only place he could of got my number was the people at Rica....

      Xavier - 2011-07-05 14:12

      @Virginia Don't be stupid, the government don't need your permission to listen into your calls, according to the law of national security gives them that right.

      Matt - 2011-07-05 14:16

      @ Virginia - don't be too complacent :-) look at the UK, where you don't even need to produce an ID number or anything to get a SIMcard. (actually, in the UK there is no legal requirement to carry identity as it's considered an invasion of privacy... which it is!) However, even with limited details, they already listen in to calls and read SMSes. Over there, if you have internet and downloaded something you shouldn't have, they cut your access and block you from applying again (for now it's dodgy downloads, fair enough, but what if they decide on other content like stuff you're not meant to read?). If you send an SMS with the word "green" in it, you have a good chance of the police investigating you for drug use. It's scary stuff... now imagine the same happening in SA but they also happen to have your address and details... all we need now is the Info Bill to be passed and you could one day be arrested for even complaining about the ANC to your mates by phone...

      Matt - 2011-07-05 14:19

      BTW would the Rica thing happen to coincide with a heck of a lot of junk calls/SMSes? We get various adverts by SMS and I get the likes of Old Mutual hassling me for a funeral policy... btw, don't ever use Old Mutual - when our uncle died, he'd paid them for years and then they refused to handle the estate and now relatives have to pay legal fees to an outside attorney, this is besides the amount of seriously compromised dealings which had the friend of the counter-claimant handling the estate, deliberately delaying stuff... I advised the relatives to take them to FAIS and have them slaughtered... meanwhile, this is what you can expect with Old Mutual so be warned!

      Stouteboude - 2011-09-22 09:38

      @Matt I once fought with Old Mutual for about nine months (from the pay-out date) to get an Old Mutual policy paid out. Never received a cent of interest or growth for the nine months. Stay away from Old Mutual!

  • Chronoman - 2011-07-05 13:05

    Why have we not heard government say the process is flawed and needs to be repeated, and that cell companies may this time not issue pre-approved sim cards??

      Almaki - 2011-07-05 13:47

      Do you seriously believe that we can afford the expense and inconvenience associated with the process again?

      Chronoman - 2011-07-05 13:51

      Absolutely, what expense? Inconvenience? Come on.

      ilollipop - 2011-07-05 21:05

      Are you being serious. The cost of the entire population going to a cell shop. The cost of all those photocopies of the id's and proof of residences. The cost of reconnecting all the people who get kicked off. Consider this: Rica makes absolutely no provision for when people change address. Day 2 of Rica the entire database is incorrect and every day thereafter it gets less accurate.

  • Mark Fysh - 2011-07-05 13:09

    One in the face for BIG BROTHER GVT. Crooks will always find a way to circumvent simple regs like this. The rest of us comply ,or are bullied to do so. So STUFF gvt for it's coercion and the mountain of paperwork it so thoughtlessly excretes.

      Matt - 2011-07-05 14:11

      And if anyone thinks it won't be used to infringe on our privacy, think again - they're just following what they already do overseas...

  • DW - 2011-07-05 13:13

    The idea behind RICA was to stop criminals using sim cards once off to commit crimes, making it almost impossible to trace them afterwards. I was wondering how soon a way would be found by the criminals around the legislation. The same as FICA legislation. I cant open a bank account without showing my whole pedigree and my dog's. But you still hear of people being caught out by scams where someone sends an e-mail or letter informing of a change of business bank account and businesses then pay the incorrect person before finding out it is fraudulent. How are those business accounts opened? A criminal who really wants to will always find a way to break the law, no matter how much legislation you put in place

      BigD - 2011-07-05 13:32

      Ja, your think about this act is the way I read it. So now a criminal will just steal a cell phone and use it in a crime. It is the big brither system the Gov wants to adopt.

      Matt - 2011-07-05 14:21

      Just a question... so your SIM details are registered and this must prevent crime... if they were that worried about cellphone theft, why didn't they ask for your IMEI number too?

      Xavier - 2011-07-05 14:28

      @BigD IF your cellphone is stolen then you contact your service provider and get it blacklisted. As soon as the thief's use it, the service provider and thus the cops will know where they are. @DW The thing is these criminals don't need pre-registered sims. They have fake id's and fake proof of residence. If I look at my proof of residence which I used at the Bank and the cellphone service providers it won't take me 10min to reproduce it with fake details. I came upon a scam on the net who sell goods (cameras, lenses, TV's etc) for between 40-60% of the normal price. The only thing is they don't send you any goods, they take your money and disappear. If you look up the street address, it is normally a city or country lodge. Luckily I'm the kind of person if something looks to good to be true it is probably not true. After a 5min google research, I found out how they operate etc etc. Here is one of their adds: their cellphone is still working and their email accountant, if you go to you can choose your domain. These guys has bank accounts at all the south african banks, and as soon as one gets closed they just reopen another one. This RICA and FICA won't change the way these criminals operate.

  • Playnice - 2011-07-05 13:24

    Help me understand how a sim can be pre-rica'd if a proof of residence is required. Are sim cards not controlled by the cell companies. ??? ie do the cell companies rica the sims before issuing?

      Tigra - 2011-07-05 13:50

      The sim cards have been rica'd, but they have been rica'd by the seller and not the purchaser of the sim card. The cellphone companies trust the dealers to follow legislation and get the correct documentation. They don't request the documentation themselves. The whole rica process is useless while we have people living in informal settlements who have no proof of residence. Any spaza shop in the informal settlement can say you stay there (even if you don't) and voila you have a proof of residence. Plus it's SO easy to forge a letter (and even get a forged SA ID too!) and use that to rica with. The whole thing is a total waste of money... It only makes things more difficult for the law-abiding citizens...

      Mike - 2011-07-05 14:01

      As mentioned in the article you can register multiple Simcards in your name. So nothing stops you registering the Simcard and then selling it. When that Simcard is used in a crime and they go looking for the 'owner' of the Simcard what do you think the consequences will be when they find someone who has 1,000 Simcards registered to their name? Chances are, nothing. But well done on creating an entire sub industry and the costs that go with it.

  • FatherGoose - 2011-07-05 13:33

    RICA will be just as effective as FICA, i.e. the impact will be to hinder the average consumer, produce lots of paperwork and cost lots of money while having essentially no effect on the target.

      Virginia - 2011-07-05 13:54

      And fathergoose, all your private details are lying around th country, now you can understand how people obtain your ID, home address etc, to open bank accounts in their name with your particulars.

  • BnQE - 2011-07-05 13:41

    Government warns ... What a Joke ...

  • Mike or Mpho - 2011-07-05 13:52

    Another attempt at wasting millions at the expense of some ANC peanuts

  • Kaspaas - 2011-07-05 13:52

    Are these people selling the SIM-card second hand actually commiting a crime? Is it a chrime to sell second hand SIM-cards? In order for the SIM-card to be connected to any network it must be RICA'd, not true? So therefore, there is nothing wrong with the SIM-card, and as far as I know there is no crime in selling it. Why all the hype then? Govt should have thought of that before they conjoured up this whole RICA debacle! Dont complain about your rubbish planning now Big Brother... hehehehehehehe

  • dwp9 - 2011-07-05 14:11

    Rica!what a waste of time and money ,just another usless low

  • Optimus-Prime - 2011-07-05 14:41

    wow, it would seem that everything is indeed connected.

  • Badballie - 2011-07-05 14:50

    For the record although government will deny of course, RICA is needed to registered all cell phone users so that the automated ECHELON software can identify and supply details on users who use certain words and or phrases in their conversations. In America where the Echelon software was first developed and implemented pre-paid throw away cell phone are still legal and widely used. The situation in south Africa is now that criminal who exercise the minimum of care can use these pre registered cards in the commission of multiple crimes without fear of being traced. The assertion that these cards can be traced by authorities is of course false and even will only be found after the criminals are detained

      Worldwise - 2011-07-05 21:05

      Correct Badballie. You can test this software out yourself. Send yourself an email with a presidents name, the word assasination and the name of a famous terrorist organisation (Not the ANC). Then send an email with just the word "hello". Tell me which one gets to your inbox first. Why was the one delayed? Big brother is watching.

  • jock - 2011-07-05 15:36

    The Govt cant even sort out the illegal guns,ID's,passports and driving permits how will they curb this

      Snys - 2011-07-05 16:15

      They don't mean it! After they saw it in the media, somebody had to say something!

  • errolsnr.oake - 2011-07-05 16:56

    Its already to late and waste of time, Criminals already got what they want ( RICA )..

  • sabc10 - 2011-07-05 17:08

    SA land of sick greedy money chasing animals.

  • Prince ryda - 2011-07-05 18:28

    Well, just wait and see... People who have lost their cell phones will end up behind bars due to the criminals who used their cell phones to commit criminat activities.

  • Monica - 2011-07-05 19:14

    You should go to the people that you employ! They know how to install your account; they also know how to put it out of action; same with our electricity and telkom lines; teachers. You employ criminals. What do you expect. Someone is in charge that employ uneducated teachers and people in employment in Government departments. Fire the lot and put them in jail; without tax payers having to pay for court fees.

      Worldwise - 2011-07-05 21:09

      Slow down there Monica. How would you like to be accused of being a criminal, fired and put in jail without a bit of taxpayers money being spent on due court process to determine whether in fact you are actually a criminal or not?

  • jabski - 2011-07-06 10:52

    just another step on the ladder to total surveillance the world over. soon every single call you make will be recorded and stored to use against you should the need arise. the technology will be available and the storage space required for this data will be a drop in the ocean. and then, as in china now and soon to come to the so called land of the free the USA, you will live in a totalitarian society and there wont be a thing you can do about it. dissenting voices will either be imprisoned, shot or if too high profile the media will destroy them and make them lepers you have been warned

  • Stouteboude - 2011-09-22 09:42

    There is a level 6 genocide warning out for a white genocide in South Africa. After your sim card has been Rica'ed it is possible that your number might form part of a lsit of numbers that can be selectively (and by the click of a mouse button) be blocked from communicating through the cell network..

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