The operation is part of a larger witch hunt against digitization-linked criminal activities.
Rabat – Judiciary police in the cities of Casablanca, Marrakech, Oujda, Meknes, and Khenitra arrested on Tuesday 100 suspects with links to unauthorized call centers, reported a statement from the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
The suspects are accused of the “theft, transfer, and piracy” of phone calls, according to the statement.
The suspects, whom authorities are referring to as “fictive call agents,” are thought to be part of a network of unauthorized call centers that have established their business to benefit off authorized centers and telecommunication companies in Morocco.
In its statement, DGSN established that the modus operandi of the “vast network of fictive call centers” consisted in calling their victims via a foreign telephone number.
The telephone of the victim is left to ring for a very short time—only once in most cases—because the goal is to trick the customer in calling back, according to DGSN. The choice of non-Moroccan numbers is to lure victims to call back much sooner than they would have normally, with the impression that it must be an important call from abroad.
Once the victim calls back, DGSN explained, the call is immediately transferred to one of the fictive centers whose agents’ job is to maintain the victim on the line.
The end goal is to “exhaust the victim’s balance” and have her telecom company pay for the remainder of the call duration in foreign currency, according to DGSN. The losses have so far been estimated at MAD 2 million.
The preliminary investigations, jointly conducted by agents of the judiciary police and a service specialized in telecommunications-related crimes, have so far led to the arrest of 94 call agents and 6 managers affiliated to the fictive network.
The authorities have also put their hands on a number of computers as well as other telecommunications “materials suspects used for their criminal undertakings,” noted DGSN’ statement.
Upgrading security mechanism
Meanwhile, DGSN suggested that, as Morocco embraces the relentless digitization of global economic activities, telecommunications-linked crimes are set to be one of the toughest security challenges.
While an established and world renowned bastion against terrorism and other classical criminal undertakings, Morocco is not sufficiently equipped to deal with the mounting threats of cybercrimes.
But as it faces increasing instances of hacking, the country is taking steps to upgrade its security architecture. In most of its recent statements, DGSN maintained that internet-based crimes will occupy the lion’s share of Morocco’s upgraded security mechanism.
In a related operation, security services in Khourigba, a province in the Beni Mellal region in Central Morocco, arrested on Wednesday 8 employees thought to be connected to similar fraudulent call centers, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported.
Suspects of both incidents have been placed under police custody as authorities across the country continue investigations to shed further light into the issue.