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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the pre-owned-like dept.

Cellphones 109

First time accepted submitter WebAgeCaveman (3615807) writes in with news about just how big the stolen smartphone black market is. "A black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones has been exposed by a BBC London undercover investigation. Intelligence was received that some shops across a swathe of east London were happy to buy phones from thieves. Two traders were filmed buying Samsung S3 and iPhone 4 devices from a researcher posing as a thief - despite him making it clear they were stolen. The shops involved have declined to comment."

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I was really surprised by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749375)

Who knew a 21st century black market had so much singing and dancing in it? I guess it is London, though.

Why can't US "journalists" do this? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749407)

Too busy doing puff pieces on Obama's cat?

(Or Bush's cat... Or Clinton's cat... You get the picture.)

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749583)

Sharyl Attkisson (formerly of the Washington bureau for CBS News) explains it here [huffingtonpost.com] .

They don't want hard hitting stories. They're cowed, either by government and political forces or corporate forces and pressure groups.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749925)

Michael Isikoff just bailed on NBC News for the same reason.

"I had a good ride at NBC, and I’m proud of a lot of what I was able to do there. But it was increasingly clear they were moving in directions in which there were going to be fewer opportunities for my work."

Isikoff is an investigative reporter.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (3, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 6 months ago | (#46749935)

Unfortunately, that's always the end result of having ads pay for journalism. At some point, there's always a conflict. And money will always will.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about 6 months ago | (#46750305)

There should be a balance. The ad sales mean nothing if the show (website, paper, whatever) has no viewers. The question is, who is this audience and why are they so apathetic that they're still willing to watch?

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

gordo3000 (785698) | about 6 months ago | (#46751637)

was there a time when newspapers weren't funded by ads, or a place in the world (even weekly or monthly periodicals come stuffed with ads to fund a large portion of the budget).

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752133)

BBC. No advertising.

You forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46758141)

...to mention they are funded by a MANDATORY tax on all TV set owners.

Yeah, like now, around here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46753871)

YLE in Finland. Ok, not technically a newspaper but they do news. And investigating reporting.

Funded by law directly by people. Not from a budget that politicians could easily kill. They get half a billion every year in a country of 5 million people. Wish they used them better than buying HBO shows. Sigh. ( yea, they do good job usually, but they could do so much more with the money that goes to HBO shows and international sports )

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 6 months ago | (#46752383)

Unfortunately, that's always the end result of having ads pay for journalism. At some point, there's always a conflict. And money will always will.

This, due to the unique way the BBC is funded, they don't have to cave to advertisers whims.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

stoatwblr (2650359) | about 5 months ago | (#46760737)

Indeed.

The main (formerly govt monopoly) telco in New Zealand shut down virtually all media reporting of major fines it'd been hit with for illegal anticompetitive activities by threatening to pull all ad space in the time between the story was reported as "late breaking, more at 10" on the 6pm TV news and the 10pm news (both channels which ran news programs at the time ran them at 6 and 10pm)

Only IDG computerworld ran the story - and it's no coincidence that the telco didn't advertise in that.

It wasn't the first time a large company had shut down unfavourable press by thrreatening to withhold adverts, but it was the first time it had been done so effectively and across all mass media.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 6 months ago | (#46749835)

They are just waiting for a blog to get a million hits, and they they are ON IT!

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46751015)

Its all about what clothes Kate Middleton is wearing on her tour of New Zealand with some balding Brittish guy these days.

Re:Why can't US "journalists" do this? (1)

fuzzywig (208937) | about 6 months ago | (#46755025)

He's German really, or at least his family is

;)

Changing IMEI is illegal (5, Informative)

kentrel (526003) | about 6 months ago | (#46749523)

Under a 2002 law it was made illegal to change the IMEI unless you're the manufacturer. However, under a 2006 amendment to the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 it was made illegal to even OFFER to do this. You don't have to actually change the IMEI to commit the offense, you just have to offer or say you will. Punishment is up to 5 years in prison. The smartphone blackmarket could be wiped out just by enforcing this law.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749565)

Of course, that would go pretty strongly against the whole "my phone, my property" thing.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749671)

Of course, that would go pretty strongly against the whole "my phone, my property" thing.

No it doesn't. Sometimes technical and political reasons require unique numbers for things to work correctly in this world. Usually the unique numbers are managed by a central authority. Most people understand that.

Should we allow people to change the VIN on their cars? No. Never mind the "my car, my property". How about allowing people to change their own phone number or address whenever they want? Same thing.

Phone numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749795)

There is absolutely no reason why changing a phone number should be difficult. I would like to be able to assign myself, say, 1000 new phone numbers. Of course I would not pay for them. The phone numbers could be longer, I don't care if they are 30 digits long. Then I could hand out a new one anytime I'm asked for one. I understand that our telcos don't want this and would never dream of helping out with this. Fortunately, most voice communication will not be handled the way it currently is pretty soon and such a thing would be possible.

Re:Phone numbers (3, Informative)

Amnenth (698898) | about 6 months ago | (#46750395)

The IMEI isn't a routable phone number. It's an identifier (that is supposed to be) unique to each handset, somewhat like a serial number.

Re:Phone numbers (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 6 months ago | (#46750789)

There are real physical historical reasons why telephone numbers were not portable until recently and why its a beaurocratic nightmare why its a hassle for everyone involved to this day. Think about BGP, but needing to track individual IP's of being nomadic (hell). Telcos do it because pretty much every exchange in the planet can commit point to point channel forwarding at this point, but in the IP world, that would be one a crazy, ineffective, and costly route.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (3, Insightful)

zenith1111 (1465261) | about 6 months ago | (#46749673)

Your car is also your property and you can't change the VIN either.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46749815)

Of course, that would go pretty strongly against the whole "my phone, my property" thing.

Sometimes, we have to make compromises. I'm willing to have a radio chip that I don't control inside my phone so long as I can turn that little fucker off when I want to. Ultimately, if I want to repurpose my phone I am free to eliminate the GSM antenna.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46750705)

I'm willing to have a radio chip that I don't control inside my phone so long as I can turn that little fucker off when I want to.

So, you're willing to have a radio chip that you don't control inside your phone so long as you can control it?

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46751085)

It's pretty obvious what is meant is he has no way to control the operation of the radio while it is on, but can turn it off at will.

Which is how it should be. A misbehaving cellphone radio can disrupt other users. If you wanted to change how it works, you'd need to change the frequency, because you'd no longer have a license to operate it.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 6 months ago | (#46750497)

It is indeed your property, but the network to which you are trying to connect is not. Go ahead and fuck with your own stuff all you want, it's probably the best way to learn and to innovate, but don't fuck up what we already have working.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (3)

janoc (699997) | about 6 months ago | (#46749741)

That sounds as if the criminals actually cared about it being illegal. One of the guys has mugged someone to get the phone in the first place and the other one is dealing in them - both crimes with likely a lot stiffer sentence than a stupid IMEI change. C'mon ....

Don't be ridiculous - until there stops being demand for extremely cheap phones (so that one can show off in front of the peers) and the manufacturers and network operators actually start doing something about it (Why is IMEI changeable in the first place?), trade in stolen phones will continue. Unfortunately, it would have to stop being profitable for them. All those IMEI blocks and such by the operators are ineffective if the phone can have the IMEI changed and not even all of them are implementing those blocks.

The other issue is that when even BBC can easily find and film (!) fences dealing in stolen goods, then what is the police doing? Ah, right, that is UK, so they are likely busy detaining journalists as terrorists, there is no time to fight petty theft and muggers.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46749803)

both crimes with likely a lot stiffer sentence than a stupid IMEI change

Oh, I don't know ... some times it seems increasingly like the penalty for digital crimes outweighs the penalty for crimes done in person.

Which is why you can get more jail time for "hacking" a system put together by chimps than you could for manslaughter.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (4, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 6 months ago | (#46749895)

Look... If you catch someone with a stolen phone just check to see if it has any pirated content. That will get some real punishment!

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749847)

The IMEI is not supposed to be change-able (Outside of manufacture debugging) but the baseband (The internal, closed, supposedly secure black box OS that runs the celular modem) where it resides can be hacked.

There are measures against this, but that matters little to the ancient practice of moving stolen goods out of the area. There are plenty of countries where your hacked phone will have no trouble running on wireless networks that are.. Somewhat less secure. (And the operators don't give a wet fart that their users are using stolen phones from out of the country)

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Threni (635302) | about 6 months ago | (#46750763)

> Ah, right, that is UK, so they are likely busy detaining journalists as terrorists, there
> is no time to fight petty theft and muggers.

Given enough of an outcry they'll turn their attention to this particular crime, which will result in a large reduction in this particular crime, and the police can announce the last year vs this year figures (whilst not showing the increase in some other crime which isn't being targeted) before moving their focus elsewhere (with the corresponding increase in this particular crime). Happens again and again.

(Why is IMEI changeable in the first place?) (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 6 months ago | (#46752399)

Because Asurion. Handset insurance almost invariably involves refurbished units. If the baseband of one phone is broken, but the mainboard of another is okay, which IMEI do you use? The answer is to scrap them both and generate a new one on the refurbished unit. Even for the phones that don't support this, it is still technically a "different phone" that has its cracked screen replaced, because if that phone then needs an insurance replacement, retaining the IMEI will garner a "but this phone has already been replaced" situation. If the IMEI changes, it makes it all but impossible for refurbs to be reliably done.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (2)

Kenja (541830) | about 6 months ago | (#46749781)

But that would mean the people stealing phones where doing things that were illegal, and that would be BREAKING THE LAW!

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 6 months ago | (#46749793)

OR it should just be impossible to do in the first place. There is absolutely no viable use case for the IMIE code to be on writeable memory. I can see why OEM's are reluctant to burn the ID to a ROM chip. On the massive scale of phone production it's going to push their costs up and slow the production chain but for crying out loud manufactures shouldn't even need to be told to do this.

/still feeling bitter from being robbed at knife point of my phone last year.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749873)

Manufacturers have to rewrite IMEIs frequently when testing prototype phones, as there's a limited pool of test IMEIs. Making the IMEI unchangeable would mean a final hardware change what could be tested only in production.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46750185)

Manufacturers have to rewrite IMEIs frequently when testing prototype phones, as there's a limited pool of test IMEIs. Making the IMEI unchangeable would mean a final hardware change what could be tested only in production.

See Sneftel's response to the GP; PROM can be in PROM easily.

As for prototyping... I've done a lot of prototyping using test IMEIs and you know what? We did exactly that -- stuck it on PROM. Quick trip through the UV and it was ready for reprogramming.

At least with this setup, the thieves would have to crack the phone open, get rid of the potting, flash the chip (in the old school sense) and reprogram it with a custom binary. Suddenly, a lot of the savings over legit phones dries up.

Even signed EEPROM would be useful, as if ALL the code on the chips is signed, you could reprogram it with your own code, but you'd have to do all the chips. And since it's your hardware, this should be fine to do. But if you want to use the provided firmware, you need it all signed properly by the manufacturer and vendor.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

stoatwblr (2650359) | about 5 months ago | (#46760805)

> At least with this setup, the thieves would have to crack the phone open,....

fusble link proms are both tiny and extremely cheap. They can also be embedded _in_ the circuit board.

One of the original design criteria for mobile phones was that the electronic serial number should both be electronically immutable and impossible to physically without destroying the handset. At some point that went out the window.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (3, Informative)

Sneftel (15416) | about 6 months ago | (#46749875)

Storing the IMEI in PROM instead of EEPROM would have no effect on production costs. Fuse bits are, if anything, cheaper than their rewritable equivalent (though IMEIs are what, 64 bits, so honestly it wouldn't make a cent of difference).

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 6 months ago | (#46750859)

You would have to change the code in the PROM for every system to make it unique.
Then you're also assuming that no one will be able to figure out how to solder out the prom for another device.
Then you're also figuring out that no one will produce a patch to return back a different imei even if i was hardcoded.

And manufacturing the exact same thing over and over is way more cost effective than anything that has a one off process.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Sneftel (15416) | about 6 months ago | (#46751177)

The fuse bits would be on the radio chip, the IC that actually does the cellular stuff, so patching and soldering would be useless. Fuse bits are set in a manner similar to flash memory -- via commands to the chip. The only significant difference is that once set, they can't be changed.

Microcontrollers already use fuse bits. Your average less-than-a-dollar PIC microcontroller includes several fuse bits to do things like make it impossible to reprogram. It's well-known technology, and just as cost-effective as the current system. It just doesn't allow for IMEI modification, and it's starting to look like allowing IMEI modification is a win for the manufacturers.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Threni (635302) | about 6 months ago | (#46750781)

> for crying out loud manufactures shouldn't even need to be told to do this.

They shouldn't need to be told to put the price up so that they'll end up selling fewer phones (hint: if your phone is stolen you need to buy a new phone) ? I think there's a chance they already know this...

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46751111)

So take stolen iPhone and broken iPhone, swap ROM chips and you have a working one again.

Phones with blocked IMEI's still have value as parts. Screens are commonly broken and people will pay $50 to get a new one for their $500 phone. You could make them impossible to disassemble without destroying everything of value, but then people will complain they can't fix their own stuff.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

Sneftel (15416) | about 6 months ago | (#46751203)

That's a significant problem, I agree. You could program the same IMEI onto all the mainboard chips and make them inoperable unless the IMEIs all match, but the screen and touchscreen are still expensive and useful to salvage. It's not a panacea. But it would precipitously drop the street price of a stolen iPhone, and that would make theft less lucrative. Every bit counts.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

stoatwblr (2650359) | about 5 months ago | (#46760833)

"Phones with blocked IMEI's still have value as parts"

In some cases they're worth more as parts than as phones.

It's a pity the Beeb didn't think to followthrough on the stories to find out what the fences were doing next. It'd a be a good "Kenyon" style undercover story.

 

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752731)

There is absolutely no viable use case for the IMIE code to be on writeable memory.

Exactly right. Automobiles and parts have had serial numbers for years now and that has completely wiped out the stolen car and car parts business. Phone manufacturers need to pull their thumbs out and get on this.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (3, Insightful)

Sneftel (15416) | about 6 months ago | (#46749823)

It would be trivial for manufacturers to make the IMEI absolutely unchangeable using fuse bits. The fact that they have not suggests that they see widespread phone theft as an overall benefit for them, which makes sense -- it drives sales of new phones among those able to afford them.

Enforcement of those laws would help, but enforcement of such things is always expensive and imperfect. Simpler and more effective to mandate that manufacturers make IMEIs absolutely unchangeable.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46755639)

Actually it's demand from the networks that keeps the IMEI writeable. They want to buy phones in bulk from the manufacturer, program their own IMEIs and load up crapware, and sell them to customers. When the customer decides to upgrade they will offer some pittance for the phone, then sell it on to another network in another country who change the IMEI and sell it to their customers.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (2)

Luthair (847766) | about 6 months ago | (#46750195)

Funnily enough stealing phones is illegal also but that doesn't appear to be stopping the problem.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46751123)

Stealing a phone doesn't get you 5 years in jail

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751101)

Adding another law that the criminals are going to violate will be SURE to stop that criminal from violating the other laws they were violating. Like stolen property laws etc... Yup. I'm sure of it.

Or no wait. Criminals already don't care about the law. So adding another won't do a damm thing.

Re:Changing IMEI is illegal (2)

mjwx (966435) | about 6 months ago | (#46752433)

Under a 2002 law it was made illegal to change the IMEI unless you're the manufacturer. However, under a 2006 amendment to the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 it was made illegal to even OFFER to do this. You don't have to actually change the IMEI to commit the offense, you just have to offer or say you will. Punishment is up to 5 years in prison. The smartphone blackmarket could be wiped out just by enforcing this law.

Somewhere in South London:

Crim 1 orrigh' me ol China, we've half-inched this mugs dog an' bone.
Crim 2 Now we just have to change the IMEI.
Crim 1 But that's illegal my sahn.
Crim 2 You're right guv, better give up then.

Re:Changing IMEI is NOT illegal (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46754705)

Under a 2002 law it was made illegal to change the IMEI unless you're the manufacturer.

It's a Chuck Schumer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] bill that he introduces every couple of years, it gets thrown to the Judiciary committee, and then it dies in committee. Like clockwork. Here's the text of the current bill, which is presently dying in the Judiciary committee right now: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/... [loc.gov] :

The people who care about this are the people who traffic in stolen phones, and the people who want to buy a handset and use the same SIM in a different GSM phone, or who want to change the MEID on a new phone so that they don't have to re-up their Verizon contract once they are paying month-to-month for their CDMA phone. And the phone companies, that want you to have to re-up your contract to get a new phone. It's the same reason there's about zero incentive to update the OS in Android phones, since if they never update the OS, in order to get the new +0.0.1 version number bump, you have to get a new phone, and the manufacturer gets to sell another phone, and the phone company gets to lock you into a new 2 year contract every 18 months when the new shiny object becomes available.

Since it's a PITA to get a phone unlocked for international roaming, since it has to be listed by ID with the cell network in the country you are traveling to, and it can take many weeks to get them to actually unlock the thing, and do the registration, most times it's just easier to clone the IMEI to your old phone, and then either destroy the old phone, or do an IMEI swap. This is a common "repair/refurbish" technique, and you'll notice that it's allowed under the Schumer bill.

You might also see both NASDAQ OMX Group and TeleCommunication Systems Inc. campaign contributions, and you'll notice contributions from Facebook in 2012, the year the bill was introduced, when Facebook was going big into the mobile market. http://influenceexplorer.com/p... [influenceexplorer.com]

Little bit of vested interest there.

Re:Changing IMEI is NOT illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46759673)

What? This is a UK story referring to UK laws, so it certainly has nothing to do with a US senator, even if he happens to creating laws along similar lines in the US.

Um Yeah. Right. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#46749563)

Ok, so, apocryphal stories, check. Stats with no useful contextual data, check. (The number of deaths by falling pianos is up 100%!!)

A cell phone kill switch is still a phenomenally bad idea. Let's not let the media sell us on it with heart rending stories about some random person being robbed for their smartphone.

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46749737)

A cell phone kill switch is still a phenomenally bad idea.

Depends on what you mean by a "kill switch". I don't think a world wide "bad ESN/IMEI" registry would be a bad thing myself. But that's not a "hit the button, wipe your phone into uselessness" kill switch.

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 6 months ago | (#46750437)

I think there is already a kill switch... don't pay your bill or call up your cell provider and ask them to cancel it they can already stop service.

This conversation is about a IMEI that can't be changed and a list stolen IMEIs so nobody can use a stolen phone. Nobody is asking for a tiny explosive on the mainboard to toast the phone when it's stolen although I think that would be cool and dangerous.

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751987)

The problem with the stolen IMEI number list is that people like AT&T that already abuse internal lists will then be able to fuck over phone owners that are customers of other companies. For example, AT&T put my new iPhone on their stolen list while it was being shipped to me new. Because of that, I had to buy another phone at full price in order to be allowed to keep my unlimited data plan. I was able to sell the phone that AT&T fucked over for $350. If there was a blacklist that was shared between providers, my new iPhone would have been worthless. That is what AT&T wants. They love fucking over people. That is why the Republicans help them so much. They hate us.

You're kind of whacked out, I think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46755527)

The problem with the stolen IMEI number list is that people like AT&T that already abuse internal lists will then be able to fuck over phone owners that are customers of other companies. For example, AT&T put my new iPhone on their stolen list while it was being shipped to me new. Because of that, I had to buy another phone at full price in order to be allowed to keep my unlimited data plan. I was able to sell the phone that AT&T fucked over for $350. If there was a blacklist that was shared between providers, my new iPhone would have been worthless. That is what AT&T wants. They love fucking over people. That is why the Republicans help them so much. They hate us.

You're kind of whacked out, I think...

Except the class action lawsuit that's currently being pursued against AT&T to force the implementation of the kill switch is being brought by Democratic judge R. Parker White of the lawfirm of Poswell, White, and Cutler... http://pwclawcorp.com/attorney... [pwclawcorp.com] per this article: http://www.courthousenews.com/... [courthousenews.com]

And the sponsored legislation demanding the kill switch is coming from San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón (Democrat) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org] ón after being appointed to that post by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (Democrat) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org] as a replacement for Kamala Harris (Democrat) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K... [wikipedia.org] .

But, you know, feel free to believe that AT&T "wants" a kill switch, and that the Republicans are the one pushing the issue. While you are at it, be sure and note that Apple iPhones already have a kill switch, and the idea of requiring a kill switch is a more or less transparent ploy by Apple against Android, which doesn't have one, and doesn't provide software updates for their phones because of the way the Android development is done.

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

radish (98371) | about 6 months ago | (#46751205)

Speaking as someone who's been robbed for his cellphone twice - bring it on!

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#46752155)

Wow, you might consider moving.

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46753971)

Wow, you might consider moving.

In some parts of the world cellphones are known as "mobile" phones or "portable" phones. Maybe he wasn't at home when they were stolen?

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#46756841)

Wow, you might consider moving.

In some parts of the world cellphones are known as "mobile" phones or "portable" phones. Maybe he wasn't at home when they were stolen?

I assumed that. I know "robbed" technically implies a home invasion, but I was assuming he meant "mugged". (Which I agree may not be a valid assumption.) My comment meant: If the crime rate in the area where you live is so high that being robbed for something as trivial as a cell phone (it used to be tennis shoes...) is common, you might consider relocating to some place where that's less likely to happen. Parenthetically, I think this (not robbed for cell phones but crime rates in general) might have been the original reason people who could afford it moved out of the city into the suburbs.

I travel around the continental US for work, was an early adopter of cell phones, (worked as a contractor for a provider for awhile) and I've never had a phone stolen. Not once. Of course, (a) I always have my cell on me, so stealing it would involve interacting with me in some fashion (and I'm pretty big...) (b) I tend to buy a little better than I need and then keep it for a very long time, so the cell I'm carrying at any given moment is pretty beat up, and (c) I've never owned an Apple mobile device. I think they're trendy nonsense and I'm not surprised that they get stolen a lot. Like trendy overpriced tennis shoes used to be. But mostly, I try to stay out of areas where crime is common. (That time in Miami was an accident....)

Re:Um Yeah. Right. (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46757817)

My comment meant: If the crime rate in the area where you live is so high that being robbed for something as trivial as a cell phone

Why do you persist in thinking he was robbed where he lived?

Parenthetically, I think this might have been the original reason people who could afford it moved out of the city into the suburbs.

How many people who live in the suburbs work in the suburbs?

Did this really happen? (0, Flamebait)

hackajar1 (1700328) | about 6 months ago | (#46749589)

BBC has been known to have a fake player x and fake player y to create a story. So formula goes: Player X contact Player Y to do something illegal-> Player Y agrees to do something illegal + adds good sound bite -> BBC only reports from Player X point of view and uses "sound bite" to make Player Y, as representative industry,which now look deplorable to the common reader. Thus, this report should be taken with a grain of salt.

Re:Did this really happen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750331)

Sounds like MSNBC's coverage of the TEA Party rallies. They'd send in paid agitators with racist or otherwise offensive signs and then film it, smearing the whole event.

Re:Did this really happen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750637)

Try watching some of those TEA party rallies online. Take note of those at the rallies - they are almost all Caucasian. This does not imply that everyone is racist, but it is a welcoming environment for those who are.

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750399)

[Citation Needed]

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about 6 months ago | (#46750561)

+1

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

hackajar1 (1700328) | about 6 months ago | (#46751899)

in 2009 the BBC paid a call center worker, who was assigned to the US, to take 3 calls for the UK queue and write down the callers CC number. The three callers were working for the BBC. They then published a story that "you cannot trust call centers in India", because they will take your number, and they pulled in the three "victims" to say on camera that they were appalled.

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

another_twilight (585366) | about 6 months ago | (#46752241)

So the BBC showed that a call center worker would record the cc numbers of callers if they were paid (and were told it was for the BBC?). How is that not a problem? What's to stop me, for example, calling that worker and paying for some cc numbers - even if I have to claim i work for the BBC?

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

hackajar1 (1700328) | about 5 months ago | (#46760563)

The point is that they performed illegal actions to generate a story. They did not find a story, they are the story.

Re:Did this really happen? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#46751353)

Did you even watch the video attached to the story?

Re:Did this really happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752161)

Cite please.

LOL ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46749591)

"Mos Eisley Spaceport.. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

I don't think much has changed since Dickens to be honest.

The specifics change, but human nature doesn't.

No great revelation (5, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 6 months ago | (#46749669)

Don't get me wrong, it's a good and valuable piece of journalism. But I doubt the findings will be a surprise to anybody who's lived in the more central areas of London (or any other major UK city), outside of a few sheltered enclaves.

I lived for a few years living around the New Cross/Bermondsey area (south of the river, but similar in demographic to the areas in TFA) and there were always a few electronics shops whose existence seemed fundamentally implausible if their business was founded on anything other than handling stolen goods. I avoided them like the plague, but they were generally pretty resilient businesses - and if one closed down, another would spring up a few streets away. I'm not saying that any business which looks a bit grungy is dishonest. I've made some good purchases at backstreet computer stores which get good prices on the back of low overheads and connections with legitimate suppliers (though such places are rare these days since the online boom). But there's a certain type of business which is offering games consoles or other commodity goods at the kind of prices that just make you go "hmm".

Hell, even going back well before that, I can remember independent video games stores "Ooop North" (from the tail end of the period before the big chains drove most of them to the wall, around the early PS1/N64 era) who were well known among my teenaged peers for staying in business on the basis of a combination of modchipping and fencing stolen goods. In fact, I remember one very close to my school being raided by police and shut down (presumably after crossing some nebulous line into their visible spectrum). Provided a fascinating distraction during the middle of an otherwise dull day at school.

As the whole modchipping thing implies, these have never been businesses run by people without a degree of tech-savvy. It's no surprise that they've moved onto circumventing mobile phone protections. And I bet you'd find similar businesses in, at the very least, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow.

There have even been suggestions - though I offer no comment as to their veracity - that a well-known red-logoed chain of second hand electronics stores with a presence in almost every town in the UK might sometimes be less than choosy about checking the provenance of the goods it accepts [ilfordrecorder.co.uk] .

Re:No great revelation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750671)

Second hand stores are supposed to get ID when exchanging any goods for cash so that the police can trace the exchange if they discover stolen goods moving through any given outlet. I doubt the red-top would willingly handle stolen goods as it'd damage their rep too much and put the entire chain at risk, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's a few staff in some of the branches who'll do a favour for a friend (or to meet a quota) on the basis they won't get caught.

There's a red-top and a yellow-top in my town, plus an independent. The shop I work at regularly has electrical goods stolen from display (it's a charity shop, so not much in terms of security), yet we never find any of it in the red or yellow top - it's always the indi they turn up in, and normally a few weeks after its been stolen from us. I've even gone in there and made it clear that an items been stolen that morning, not to accept it if someone tries to sell it to them, only to see it in their window two days later.

Re:No great revelation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46754595)

Do you ever get them back after seeing them in the window?

Re:No great revelation (1)

Xest (935314) | about 6 months ago | (#46755029)

Well he's still the legal owner by law, so there's nothing to stop him literally just walking in, picking them up, and walking out with them. Common sense would suggest telling the police you're doing exactly that first, and letting them know you've done it afterwards, but legally short of them preventing you accessing the shop (in which case you'd have to get the police to do it for you) there isn't jack shit they can do to stop you just taking your items back.

In fact, it'd arguably be immoral not to just take them back, because anyone buying them is potentially liable for handling stolen goods, even if they weren't aware they were stolen, so letting them stay there risks leaving someone else at risk of prosecution when they've not knowingly done anything wrong.

If the shop owner has a problem with you walking into his shop and just picking up your items and walking off with them then it's upto him to call the police and take it up with them, it's not your problem - they're your goods and they legally belong to you still. If he's lost money on it then tough shit, he should've worked harder to make sure the goods were legit by asking for an original receipt or something.

Re:No great revelation (1)

Xest (935314) | about 6 months ago | (#46754969)

Yep, no need to beat about the bush, there has been numerous occasions where CEX has been found peddling stolen goods.

When big well known nationwide brands are doing it and getting away with it what have the small guys got to worry about? CEX is the place of choice for many criminals trying to offload stolen Blurays, laptops, DVDs, video games, and mobile phones.

Portobello Road! (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 6 months ago | (#46749693)

Why it's no secret where these traders and shops operate. The place where anything and everything you want is sold! I'm speaking of course about Portobello Road [youtube.com] !

Welcome to every flea market everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749713)

It's a revelation.

Re:Welcome to every flea market everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752191)

You say flea market, I say free market - let's call the whole thing short-sighted individualistic ethics.

Great start (-1, Offtopic)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 6 months ago | (#46750037)

Now how about England giving back the land stolen from Irish?

Re:Great start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751037)

An excellent parallel argument could be made about Texas and most of California with respect to Mexico.

If you were actually paying attention and not just listening to wankers with friends in the 32CSC, amazing progress has been made with respect to Northern Ireland and pretty much everyone is happy about it except a few Unionists, who could not remotely be said to speak for the mainland.

But you weren't, were you.

Re:Great start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751069)

Yes, there is a direct link between someone in England in the early 21st being willing to purchase a stolen mobile phone and the English conquest of Ireland in the 16th century. As an Englishman I'm very glad that you, someone who from a quick skim of their previous comments appears to reside in the United States of America, a country with a spotless record of territory acquisition, have raised this. Perhaps you be so kind as to post your thoughts on how best the return of the stolen land may be achieved. We tried giving most of it back already but some of the people living in the northern bit are rather vocal about wishing it remain part of the UK.

Re:Great start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751407)

You'll die before that happens, and hopefully it will rankle in your soul right to the end.

Enjoy!

Re:Great start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752179)

I've English and I haven't stolen any land from anyone.

Re:Great start (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46754003)

I'm english and I recognise that we stole America from the native Americans. Let's give it back.

Why just the BBC ? (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 6 months ago | (#46750089)

If the BBC can do this ... why aren't the police doing so ? They would not need to do it very often, just enough to put the fear of god in those who act as a fence.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about 6 months ago | (#46750383)

Does anyone in a modern country actually fear the police anymore? The prisons can barely hold violent offenders, even if they busted these theft rings, they're probably not going to prison for long, if at all. The best the police could probably do is thank them for not assaulting anyone as they're stealing from them.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46750721)

You seem to be under the impression that because prisons are overcrowded we have stopped putting people in them. In reality we just pack a few more in; the violence, drug abuse, sexual assault, and gang membership this inevitably makes even worse is simply ignored.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about 6 months ago | (#46751557)

We haven't stopped putting people in, but the non-violent criminals are generally the first to win the favor of "catch and release" policies that mean to address overcrowding. It's so out of control even in the small state I live in that nearly all prisoners had their sentences reduced and even violent offenders were able to leave prison months earlier than they were sentenced for. Knowing that, is the threat of prison much of a deterrent anymore? Even across the pond, that lunatic that shot up the island full of kids was ranting about inhumane treatment because he didn't have access to the latest video game machine. It's lunacy. I think the "enlightened" nations have forgotten what punishment is.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750935)

Does anyone in a modern country actually fear the police anymore?

Just the criminals don't, the police tend to spend much of their time harassing people for petty reasons and writing trumped-up tickets.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 6 months ago | (#46751591)

If the BBC can do this ... why aren't the police doing so ?

Because they don't care. In some cases it's apathy and in some it's incompetence. I had my wallet and iPhone stolen, and the thief actually used the phone and tried to use the credit card. I did all of the leg work so that all the police had to do was submit a law enforcement request (not even a court order) and would have got the name of the thief, but the detectives danced around outright saying it wasn't worth 5 minutes of their time. Of course, if they caught the thief it means hours of their time to make the arrest, paperwork, court, contacting the owners of all the other stolen goods they would likely find in their home, etc.

Re:Why just the BBC ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752221)

If you make such generalising judgments based on a single experience, you're probably an irritating nobcheese. And, if there's one thing the police have lots of experience with, it's dealing with nobcheeses - in your case, it seems, by telling you to get stuffed.

not just the uk (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750197)

My sister's friend recently had her phone stolen in LA. She tracked her phone to a phone shop in the worst part of town. When she confronted the store owner about it he had the nerve to tell her "we don't rat out our suppliers."

Re:not just the uk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752253)

Because only a gentle fate could have awaited the store owner "in the worst part of town" if he had ratted out a criminal supplier, right? The nerve of him to care about his legs more than your sister's trinket!

Sometimes I think middle class hipsters are so fucking clueless about the way the majority of the world works that they deserve everything they get.

Re:not just the uk (1)

RubberDogBone (851604) | about 6 months ago | (#46752637)

I call BS. Pro phone thieves and their buyers know to pull the battery as soon as they steal a phone. Without power, no tracking.

This is trivial on Android/Windows Phone/BB (not that anyone wants to steal the latter two) and even on iPhones, it's not very hard to pull the cover off and remove the battery (was two screws on an iPhone 4, plus a screw for the battery cable, well under 30 seconds to do it), or pop it into a faraday bag for later handling.

Nobody stealing phones with half a brain would ever allow themselves to be caught with one that has GPS actively reporting their position. Only low-level idiots would do that.

EcoATM Kiosks (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 6 months ago | (#46750711)

Well, did BBC investigate the alternative? Will these cash-dispensing kiosks do a better job? http://flipsy.com/blog/13/11/e... [flipsy.com] Maybe, if you have to have your photograph taken to get the cash?

black market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750797)

wouldn't it be easier to buy the cell phones from eBay, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon Sprint, U.S. Cellular store instead of a black market? I must be missing something.

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