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AT&T has aided & abetted cellphone thieves for years by reactivating stolen phones, particularly iPhones, & fraudulently telling customers that it “cannot” block calls to & from the stolen phones – so customers will have to buy new ones – a class action claims in Federal Court


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – AT&T has aided and abetted cellphone thieves for years by reactivating stolen phones, particularly iPhones, and fraudulently telling customers that it “cannot” block calls to and from the stolen phones – so customers will have to buy new ones – a class action claims in Superior Court.
The class claims AT&T does this “in order to make millions of dollars in improper profits, by forcing legitimate customers … to buy new cell phones, and buy new cell phone plans, while the criminals who stole the phone are able to simply walk into AT&T stores and ‘re-activate’ the devices, using different, cheap, readily available ‘SIM’ cards (computer chips).”
Hilary White and two other named plaintiffs sued AT&T for conspiracy, fraud, breach of contract, accessory to theft, unfair trade and other charges.
They claim: “On a regular daily basis in California and elsewhere, the cell phones, Apple Computer Corporation ‘iPhones’ in particular, are stolen by criminals from lawful purchasers and users.”
Each cellphone and iPhone is registered to the purchaser when he or she buys it, via an International Mobile Equipment Identification, or IMEI number, about 15 digits long.
“Each such cellular device is identifiable, as a handheld cell phone, by the IMEI imprinted on same, and said serial number is readily visible to, and apparent to, any and all stores, businesses, and defendant employees when the device is activated or a new cell phone usage plan is turned on by defendants,” the complaint states.
“Nevertheless, for years, defendants have actively and without reservation aided, abetted, and assisted thieves, i.e., possessors of stolen cell phones, in earning illegal theft profits, by turning back on, or ‘re-activating’ said stolen phones.
“Plaintiffs have been told by AT&T representatives that they will not, and ‘cannot,’ block and effectively kill usage of such stolen cell phones by thieves and criminal organizations[;] however, such representations are false and fraudulent.
“Defendants actively have, for years, participated in this practice in order to make millions of dollars in improper profits, by forcing legitimate customers, such as these plaintiffs, to buy new cell phones, and buy new cell phone plans, while the criminals who stole the phone are able to simply walk into AT&T stores and ‘re-activate’ the devices, using different, cheap, readily available ‘SIM’ cards (computer chips).
“Defendants have, for years, profited from this implicit collaboration and conspiracy with thieves and criminal gangs of thieves.
“Defendants continue to engage in this practice, and knowingly and intentionally continue to refuse to block, disable, or ‘kill’ permanently, or return to their lawful owners these stolen iPhones and other cell phones, to the financial benefit and plan not only of the criminal thieves themselves, but of the defendants, [i.e.], AT&T.
“These unfair and illegal profits have amounted to many millions of dollars each year, for the past several years, and continuing, reaped by AT&T and other cell phone providers.
“Plaintiffs have repeatedly asked defendants to track, record, and simply refuse to ‘activate’ these stolen iPhones, however, to date defendants have refused to do so, even though it is readily, easily able to accomplish, because if they take said proper action, their sales of new iPhones and plans will be reduced and diminished.”
Plaintiffs seek disgorgement and punitive damages.
They are represented by R. Parker White with Poswall, White & Cutler.
Named as defendants are AT&T, AT&T Communications of California, AT&T Mobility Wireless Operations Holdings, and Doe corporations, business entities and individuals. 

 

Posted in courthousenews

 

 

If someone filed a police report for their stolen phone, would this be considered concealing evidence?

“Nevertheless, for years, defendants have actively and without reservation aided, abetted, and assisted thieves, i.e., possessors of stolen cell phones, in earning illegal theft profits, by turning back on, or ‘re-activating’ said stolen phones.

AT&T is too “big” for the law to really do anything about this.

Ironic because

The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI

is a number, usually unique,[1][2] to identify GSM, WCDMA, and iDEN mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones. It is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone. It can also be displayed on the screen of the phone by entering *#06# into the keypad on most phones.

The IMEI number is used by a GSM network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing that network. *For example, if a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call his or her network provider and instruct them to “blacklist” the phone using its IMEI number.* This renders the phone useless on that network and sometimes other networks too, whether or not the phone’s SIM is changed.

The IMEI is only used for identifying the device and has no permanent or semi-permanent relation to the subscriber. Instead, the subscriber is identified by transmission of an IMSI number, which is stored on a SIM card that can (in theory) be transferred to any handset. However, many network and security features are enabled by knowing the current device being used by a subscriber.

IMEI and the law

Many countries have acknowledged the use of the IMEI in reducing the effect of mobile phone theft. For example, in the United Kingdom, under the Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act, changing the IMEI of a phone, or possessing equipment that can change it, is considered an offence under some circumstance.[3] Such an action is also considered a criminal offence in Latvia.[citation needed]

IMEI blocking is not the only approach available for combating phone theft. For example, mobile operators in Singapore are not required by the regulator to implement phone blocking or tracing systems, IMEI-based or other. The regulator has expressed its doubts on the real effectiveness of this kind of system in the context of the mobile market in Singapore. Instead, mobile operators are encouraged to take measures such as the immediate suspension of service and the replacement of SIM cards in case of loss or theft.[4]

There is a misunderstanding amongst some regulators that the existence of a formally-allocated IMEI number range for a GSM terminal implies that the terminal is approved or complies with regulatory requirements. This is not the case. The linkage between regulatory approval and IMEI allocation was removed in April 2000, with the introduction of the European R&TTE Directive. Since that date, IMEIs have been allocated by BABT (or one of several other regional administrators acting on behalf of the GSM Association) to legitimate GSM terminal manufacturers without the need to provide evidence of approval.

Blacklist of stolen devices

When mobile equipment is stolen or lost the owner can typically contact their local operator with a request that it should be blocked. If the local operator possesses an Equipment Identity Register (EIR), it then will put the device IMEI into it, and can optionally communicate this to the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) which blacklists the device in all other operator switches that use the CEIR. With this blacklisting in place the device is bricked and becomes unusable on any operator that uses the CEIR, making theft of mobile equipment a useless business proposition, unless for parts.

 

 

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