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A global crime wave of stolen, fraudulently obtained, sold-but-not-activated and activated-but-not-used smartphones is costing mobile carriers billions of dollars in lost revenue annually.

Millions of devices are stolen throughout all stages of the device lifecycle — from shipments (5 to 25 percent) to in-store theft and robberies (increasing at a rapid rate of 200 percent year-over-year).

In the U.S. alone, GSMA estimates that over 4 million devices a year are trafficked, costing upwards of $900 million. And that estimate is just for prepaid devices. Include postpaid and the impact is far larger. This little-talked about problem is not just costing the carriers. Subscribers are also taking a hit. Verizon just recently reported that about 7,000 customers are directly impacted by this problem every month.

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