Federal law criminalized cell phone fraud in 1998, defining it broadly as the unlawful use, alteration, or tampering of a cell phone or service. The two main kinds of cell phone fraud are subscriber fraud and cell phone cloning fraud. Other cell phone scams include downloading ringtones, accessing voting for candidates, and downloading programs that install software that allow the offender to spy on or hack into users’ accounts.
Subscriber fraud takes place when someone criminally acquires consumer information or fabricates one’s identification and uses it to access services. Cloning fraud occurs when a phone is reprogrammed to transmit the electronic serial number (ESN) and telephone number (MIN) belonging to someone else. Each phone has an ESN which is uniquely set during the creation of the phone, and when criminal suspects obtain these numbers by monitoring radio waves, it can lead to fraudulent activity.
Victims of cell phone fraud can generally get help from their service providers or from the Federal Communications Commission’s consumer complaints’ division at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
Of course, cell phones are an imperfect technology. Nobody has ever owned a perfect cell phone, and virtually everybody has experienced lost reception, crossed signals, dropped calls, interference, and other phone mishaps. Not every cell phone problem is the result of criminal activity.
If you or someone you know has been charged in a criminal offense involving the use of cell phones, please contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick at 1-866-337-2900 for a free case evaluation.