THE CRIME DEFINED

Cellular theft:

A cellular phone is stolen from a legitimate customer and used before the theft can be reported.

Subscription fraud:

This type of counterfeiting occurs when a person signs up for cellular service using fraudulent information or false identification and does not intend to pay for service.

Tumbler fraud:

The first to seriously impact the cellular industry, this counterfeit method entails altering a cellular phone so it “tumbles” through a series of electronic serial numbers making the caller appear as a different, new or roaming customer on each call.

By replacing the number assignment module-an electronic component of the phone that matches the electronic serial number with the mobile identification number-a fraudster could generate up to 48,000 possible ESNs.

In response, the industry developed Interim Standard 41 pre-call validation, which prevents users from making cellular phone calls until the MIN/ESN pair is validated. Increasing use of the solution has virtually eliminated this type of fraud.

Cloning fraud:

One step more complicated than tumbling, cloning bandits have tricked carriers’ computers into thinking an altered phone belongs to a legitimate customer.

Cloning can occur by replacing the number assignment module (NAM) or an electronic chip in a cellular phone to duplicate a legitimate customer’s phone information. Most often, cloning is done by stealing and programming a valid subscriber’s electronic serial number (ESN) and mobile identification number (MIN) into the phone.

Criminals committing cloning fraud typically obtain number combinations from ESN readers, test equipment that is either stolen or used by industry employees, through a retailer or carrier’s resources.

Roaming fraud:

Cloning a phone’s identity in one market for use in another market. Often, this approach bypasses a carrier’s fraud detection system.

Emulation fraud:

Some companies have been offering consumers two cellular phones that use the same MIN by altering the factory-set ESN or hacking into a cellular phone’s internal programming and causing a nonfactory-set ESN to be transmitted or emulated from the altered phone. This violates Federal Communications Commission rules. Responding to consumer desire for two phones with the same number, some cellular carriers are deploying switch-based technology that will page several phones with the same MIN. However, each phone will have its own factory-set ESN.

Source: Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Bell Atlantic Mobile, RCR Publications Inc.

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