NAMIBIA ARRESTS VOIP OPERATORS

Telecoms

Five foreign nationals - one woman and four men - were arrested  on charges of fraud and contravening the Postal and Telecommunication Act of 1992. The Namibian Police and Telecom staff raided a business and two houses on Friday after Telecom investigated illegal activities on its network and called in the help of the Police.

According to Telecom Namibia, the suspects were making use of VOIP technology and sold phone cards to people wishing to make cheap international calls. It is legal in a number of African countries but not in Namibia. Telecom Namibia says international calls were made via the Internet from VOIP "platforms" at two houses in Windhoek. Telecom Namibia estimates that it lost business worth about N$2 million since November last year because of this operation.

It says it started investigating these illegal activities in February this year, when traffic volumes to some Oriental destinations started to decline noticeably. Police on Friday confiscated 640 phone cards during a raid on the Taiwan Food Shop in the Hidas shopping centre. The cards were apparently made in Japan, with Namibia and N$100 printed on them.

A VOIP "platform" was found at the house of the shop owners on the corner of Nelson Mandela and Chapman streets in Klein Windhoek. Another platform was found at a house opposite Ramatex in the Otjomuise residential area. The house, which is being rented by two Chinese men, contained three computers equipped with earphones and mouthpieces. According to the Police, the computers had an illegal power connection bypassing the house's electricity meter.

The Namibian