Feds Hang Up on $15 Million Cell Phone Cloning Scheme

Nine former Sprint workers charged

By Alice McQuillan
|  Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010  |  Updated 7:41 PM EDT
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Feds Hang Up on $15 Million Cell Phone Cloning Scheme

A Rolodex worth of telephone company employees are on the hook for a scheme to make millions of dollars worth of fraudulent calls, feds said today.

The nine former employees of Sprint had cloned customer cell phone numbers to make $15 million worth of calls, according to federal authorities.

The alleged fraudsters, located in the BronxNew Jersey and Tampa, are accused of illegally accessing customer accounts more than 16,000 times from January to June of this year, according to a criminal complaint.

The plan got disconnected when customers complained about being billed for calls they didn't make -- many of those to numbers overseas, officials said. Sprint has credited these defrauded customers, authorities said.

Store videotapes allegedly caught some of the employees illegally accessing customer accounts, the complaint said. When confronted, one suspect claimed that he was an event promoter who was gathering cell phone numbers for a promotional text blast, said the complaint.

The suspects face charges including aggravated identify theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Six of the defendants, who appeared in White Plains federal court, did not enter a plea.

Sprint said it "regularly monitors and works aggressively to identify and respond to fraudulent activity," and the company has been working with authorities on the case.

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