A Kabwe Magistrate’s Court has fined a 28-year-old man K5,000 or eight months simple imprisonment for hacking into Airtel Zambia network to reroute international calls.
Chanda Chiti of Highridge Township in Kabwe pleaded guilty to one count of securing access to an electronic communication network contrary to section 77 (2) (d) of the Information and Communication Technologies Act.
Facts before Magistrate PumuloMubita yesterday were that Chitiused an electronic gadget known as simbox to intercept international calls on Airtel network and bill them at the local rate.
The court heard that his action between January and March last year resultmagistrateed in the loss of more than US $24,000 by the mobile phone company. Airtel Zambia had reported to the police on April 8, 2016 that it had lost more than US $24,000 in phone call re-routing between January and March 2016.
The ideal situation is that Airtel bills the other mobile service provider making an international call for using its network and part of the charge is paid to the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA).
However, the court heard that Chiti had procured more than 1,000 simcards from an Airtel agent and inserted them into the prohibited simbox which is also known as simfarm machine to hide international calls received on Airtel network. This meant that Airtel could not bill the other networks as the international calls were disguised as domestic calls. Police investigations led to the arrest of Mary Mupeta a sales agent who had sold more than 1,000 simcards to Chiti.
Officers also recovered one simbox in Mukobeko area which was not operational but all the electronic gadgets including his personal laptop were taken to ZICTA for examination.
In mitigation, Chiti, the father of two, begged for the court’s leniency, saying he regretted his action and that he had recently lost his mother.
Magistrate Mubita said she had taken into consideration the mitigation and sentenced him accordingly.
Mupeta, the sales agent who had sold the simcards to Chiti was also recently fined K2,000 after pleading guilty to unauthorized access to interception of or interference with data.