SIM Box Fraud to Drive 700% Surge in Roaming Scams

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The volume of global roaming fraud traffic is set to increase by a staggering 700% over the coming five years as scammers look to tap a growing market, according to a new study from Juniper Research.

Its report, Roaming Fraud Market 2023-2028, assessed the size of the global roaming market across data, IoT, SMS and voice, and estimates operator losses due to fraud.

It also evaluated the readiness of 60 countries to combat these emerging fraud techniques and their adoption of roaming fraud mitigation solutions, and assessed 14 solutions currently on the market.

Juniper predicted that global outbound roaming data will grow from 230,000 PB in 2023 to over 2.2 million PB by 2028, driven by data-intensive 5G roaming connections. This represents a money-making opportunity for telcos, but also cyber-criminals.

Read more on 5G fraud: Europol: Telecoms Fraud Costs €29bn Annually

Thanks to techniques like SIM box fraud, the growth in fraudulent data roaming traffic will reach 218 PB by 2028, the report claimed.

SIM box fraud is a type of “interconnected bypass” scam, where threat actors intercept international calls and route them to a local device known as a SIM box. This device then routes the connection back into the network as a local call, depriving the operator of extra revenue.

The device might be able to support hundreds or even thousands of unpaid or low-cost SIM cards, often obtained fraudulently.

Roaming vendors interviewed by Juniper Research apparently agreed that bilateral 5G roaming agreements are now needed to detect these fraudulent connections and help operators to maximize future roaming revenue. It said the market is expected to generate $8bn globally by 2028.

A 2019 report into telecoms fraud argued that crime in the sector is increasingly seen as a low-risk alternative to traditional financial crime.

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