For many of us, 2020 was a year that posed new and unprecedented challenges in our personal and professional lives. Despite the unexpected challenges, LATRO remained fully committed to providing customized solutions unmatched in effectiveness for our clients. LATRO’s products and services suite continued to provide international Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with effective FMS tools to help them successfully navigate through a tumultuous year.  

Below are case studies from five markets where LATRO partnered with MNOs to evaluate current fraud trends and implement corrective controls in 2020. Through employing our expertise and custom solutions, we have helped our clients meet their RAFM goals. 

Africa – Congo (DRC) 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a central African country with just under 87 million people. In 2020, LATRO observed an ever-growing fraud market, which seemed to only strengthen after the COVID-19 outbreak. When taking a closer look at this trend, it was apparent that fraudsters were making clear efforts to expand their SIM Box fraud operations in 2020.  

LATRO partnered with several local operators to help combat this surge in bypass fraud and achieved success in implementing Signaling Analytics for Pre-Call detection, CDR Analytics for full network coverage, and Geo-Location services for instant SIM Box elimination. In addition to the increased popularity of SIM Box fraud in 2020, LATRO observed further increases in 3G-based SIM Box fraud. Beginning in May 2020, LATRO observed a 6,000% increase in 3G chipset utilization. The LATRO team collaborated closely with the local DRC operators to provide customized solutions and strategies to meet their specific RAFM needs and combat this rise in fraud.  

Figure 1: Congo Bypass Detection Levels

Americas – Guyana

Since 2015, LATRO has partnered with MNOs in Guyana to successfully combat bypass fraud in this South American country. The effectiveness of LATRO’s tools, in conjunction with Operator support, has limited the profitability of bypass fraud in Guyana in comparison to other markets worldwide. In 2020, LATRO observed a continued downtrend in bypass fraud in Guyana, and this trend continues.

Through our efforts in combating fraud, LATRO has also observed new emerging threats, most notably Wangiri fraud. Wangiri is a fraud scheme where fraudsters solicit callbacks to premium-rate numbers in order to profit off of these rates. LATRO has utilized its Signaling Analytics Probes to effectively report on this emerging fraud case, most notably in July 2020 (You can read more about the case here – How Signaling Analytics Helps LATRO Combat Wangiri Fraud). 

Figure 2: Visualization of Guyana Bypass Detection Levels
Figure 3: Visualization of Wangiri Number Detected in 2020 in Guyana

Asia – Vietnam

Vietnam, a rapidly developing Asian market, boasts a population of 96 million where there are nearly 110 mobile phone service subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants. In a large user base such as this, there are many vulnerabilities that fraudsters can exploit.

In 2020, LATRO observed a downtrend after the COVID-19 outbreak and a continued decrease in On-Net bypass fraud when compared to 2019. LATRO’s successful partnership with the local Vietnamese operators in 2020 led to increases in key KPIs like Mean Time to Detect and Mean Time to Block. Additionally, LATRO has helped facilitate the expansion of effective FMS controls across the country. Currently, LATRO is working with three Vietnam Operators, representing 65% of the country’s total subscriber base.

Figure 4: Visualization of Vietnam Bypass Detection Levels

Middle East – Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s six mobile telecom operators provide service to more than 34 million people within the country. One of LATRO’s most important partnership aspects is the ability to leverage our tools with local operators’ fraud controls. This capability has helped LATRO combat illegal bypass in an evolving and active fraud landscape.

In 2020, LATRO observed high levels of CLI Spoofing/Manipulation – detecting over 116,000 spoofed CLIs through Test Call Generation (TCG). To combat CLI Spoofing for one Afghanistan Operator, LATRO deployed an active CAMEL-based solution to block Off-Net Bypass Fraud calls and Manipulated CLI traffic (You can read more about the case here – Tackling OFF-NET Fraud).

Figure 5: Afghanistan CLI Spoofing

Despite the increase in CLI Spoofing, LATRO’s strong presence in Afghanistan has continued to help local Operators limit their vulnerability to bypass fraud. LATRO’s Kabul-based Field Application Engineer team has continued to locate and eliminate hundreds of SIM box operations, such as the one pictured below. LATRO’s Geo-Location tool is another effective measure against fraudsters’ efforts to expand their SIM Box operations. Despite government enforced curfews and lockdowns, LATRO continued to locate and eliminate SIM Box Operations in Afghanistan, resulting in the recovery of$1.8M USD revenue at risk during the 2020 Global Pandemic.

Figure 6: Recent SIM Box Bust In Afghanistan

It is hard to believe that we are already at the end of the first quarter of 2021. As we look ahead to the rest of the year, LATRO remains committed to providing our clients with products and services tailored to their needs. By leveraging the skills of our expert team and our cutting-edge solutions, LATRO is committed to helping our clients meet their 2021 RAFM goals.