The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadly defines cell phone fraud as the unauthorized use or manipulation of a cell phone or its service. In most cases, this is accomplished by using a stolen phone or signing up for phone service by using false identification. There are, however, a wide range of activities that fall under the term “cell phone fraud”, so if you are being investigated for this type of offense, it is essential to speak to a financial crime attorney to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

What is cell fraud?

According to the FCC, cell phone fraud involves any type of unauthorized use or tampering with a cell device or its service. Although this definition covers cell phone theft, it also includes more sophisticated schemes, such as cloning an electronic serial number. These numbers, also known as ESNs, are unique factory numbers that can be stolen and used to reprogram other phones. Although there are a variety of ways to obtain this information, the most common involves obtaining ESNs by monitoring radio wave transmissions from legitimate users. If a phone has been successfully cloned, then the original user will receive the bill for their own phone, as well as the cloned device.

Unfortunately, another common form of cell phone fraud is known as subscriber fraud. This type of fraud involves registering for phone service or a cell phone account with personal information obtained illegally or through a false identification document.

Network fraud is another cell phone-related offense that includes attempts to exploit weaknesses in billing systems or telephone switching equipment by manipulating cell phone systems and services. These actions may result in third-party billing, as well as the use of non-existent account numbers.

Guidelines for Penalty

The federal law that prohibits cell phone fraud, known as the Wireless Phone Protection Law, covers a wide range of activities, including owning a cloned device, or using, manufacturing, or selling equipment that can be used to clone cell phones, or commit fraud online. The statutory maximum penalty for these crimes is 15 years, but judges have the discretion to determine the sentence based on a number of factors, including:

  • the amount of loss resulting from the defendant’s actions;
  • the amount of planning put into the scheme;
  • Whether the offense involved the use of sophisticated equipment or skills.

This discretion in sentencing makes it especially important for those accused of cell phone fraud to retain an attorney who can advocate for a dismissal of the charge or a reduced sentence for the accused.

Contact our legal team today

To speak to an experienced economic crime attorney about your cell phone fraud case, call Jeffrey S. Weiner, PA at (305) 670-9919 or email us with a brief description of your case. Our legal team is ready to help you today.