Thursday, April 10, 2003

Tracfone Fraud

Yesterday I was walking through a Lowe's hardware store. I saw a Tracfone for sale. Tracfone is a product consisting of a phone and separate prepaid wireless minutes. Given you can buy these with cash in your local Circuit City, I sensed an opportunity for troublemakers who prefer to act anonymously. (While there are other prepaid cellular plans, it appears they tie to existing accounts, or at least don't offer the easy cash purchase method of Tracfone.) I found that Tracfone sells at least one cell phone, the Motorola v120t, which can be equipped with the Multi-Connect Serial Data Kit - 98320 -- a cellular modem. At this point a dial-up ISP is required to use the cellular modem. I'm not sure where to go with this, but overall this exercise has given me an idea how criminals might seek to hide their identity.

On a related note, it's possible Tracfone's prepaid calling cards have been the target of fraud. This post claims people are selling Tracfone cards on eBay, and references this thread as "proof". I also found a site which teaches ways to defraud Tracfone, complaining that Tracfone defrauds its customers.

Let me make it clear that none of this discussion is intended to assist the reader with defrauding anyone. I try to understand these techniques because my professional career involves helping companies to combat fraud.

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