Mali Orange relief as international calls syndicate dismantled

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

Mali Orange investors and management are breathing a sigh of relief after two brothers who used the company network to allegedly operate an illegal international calls business for the past six months were arrested last week in the capital Bamako.

The two Malians, who are thought to have been working for a US-based Cameroon national, are said to have made thousands of dollars using a 32-port Sim box and a computer. Police said the two alleged criminals were caught with 276 Orange sim cards, one CPU and cash.

Police chief inspector Papa Mambi Kéita said the two brothers were being paid a monthly ‘salary’ of 200 000 FCFA (US$400) by the Cameroonian.

Interpol has been notified on the Cameroonian's role in the crime and efforts are being made to track him down in the US. 

Keita, who is in charge of the anti-cybercrime unit, said the two brothers used to, among others, hide incoming calls made on the Orange network by bypassing their normal route.

This practice is widespread across the African continent, where the cost of international calls is much higher than the global average.

In many countries, landline subscribers often complain of interference in their lines and report an unusual increase of monthly telephone bills.

 “When you come back from a long trip and haven’t made any international call in the past two years, and you see a telephone bill amounting to 500 000 FCFA (US$1 000), you must know that something is very wrong somewhere,” Aliyah Coulibaly said this week.


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