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Crimes involving mobile devices continue to proliferate. Mobile operators that stem counterfeiting, frauds, thefts, and trafficking will enjoy higher profits and ARPUs whilst reducing the number of sold but not activated (SBNA) and activated but not used (ABNU) devices.

How to Fight Handset Theft, Fraud and Trafficking


The mobile industry has always suffered from fraud and revenue leakage. However, much of the focus is on well-known fraudulent practices such as non-payment of bills, abuse of credit, and organised schemes such as bulk SMS or SIM box fraud. Countering network and customer crimes are priorities for mobile operator fraud and revenue assurance teams, but less attention is devoted to crime that originates on or relates to the mobile device itself.

These offences cut across the entire mobile device lifecycle and extend from device theft in the mobile supply chain to the trafficking of devices for resale outside the intended market. This class of criminal activity has proliferated due to the high value of smartphones making it attractive for criminals to steal devices, defraud insurers and warranty providers, to abuse shared usage policies or to defraud the device recall process. With new mobile devices costing up to USD2,000 and the increasing reliance of consumers on their smartphones to conduct very high value activities, device-related crimes continues. This is despite industry efforts to contain and eradicate such crimes through initiatives like the GSMA’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) Database.

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Smartphone Crime Is Growing – How Do We Turn the Tide?

The mobile ecosystem is suffering a smartphone crime epidemic which is only set to increase as the value and volume of devices continues to rise. As well as escalating levels of fraud and revenue loss costing mobile operators billions of dollars a year, we’re seeing a global increase in street crime, the trafficking of stolen devices for resale, and the involvement of organized crime at all levels.

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