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COMRiC Busts Major SIM Card Fraud Ring in South Africa

SOUTH Africa’s Communication Risk Information Centre (COMRiC) has dismantled a large SIM card fraud ring operating in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, leading to the arrests of 45 individuals in Johannesburg and 3 in Bloemfontein, all foreign nationals. Among the arrested were six Chinese nationals identified as the ringleaders.

Authorities confiscated over two million illegally obtained SIM cards from various providers, along with bulk SMS messaging machines. None of the SIM cards were cloned or fake.


COMRiC CEO Thokozani Mvelase explained that these machines are used for criminal activities such as identity theft, information theft, and unauthorised bank access. These actions also cause network congestion and increased security costs for providers.

The Bloemfontein arrests followed a comprehensive operation by police units, government departments, private security, and forensic investigators. They discovered SIM cards from various providers in two houses located in Woodlands, Bloemfontein.

In a related effort, MTN announced in March that it would target illegally registered SIM cards sold by partners. MTN’s new policy deregisters SIMs not activated within 72 hours of registration.

In another development, South Africa’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has reportedly lost over $16 million to cyber attacks in the past decade, with speculation about possible collusion between officials and criminals.

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