It’s interesting that eBay won’t allow legitimate gun sales at their online “auction” house, but they seem to have no problem with people selling stolen smart phones.
Judging by the number of stolen cell phones offered for sale on eBay, it’s a dumping ground for people to offload their stolen phones.
Go over to eBay and search for “Bad ESN”. Here, we’ll do it for you. Here’s the link.
How do we know “Bad ESN” phones are stolen?
Well, there’s only one reason a phone has a “bad esn” and that’s because it’s been blacklisted by a carrier as “lost” or stolen.
Check out more on this from Karl Denninger’s The Market Ticker.
There is a serious problem with smartphone theft and there is pending legislation (and threats of more of it) in several states driven by the rise in these sort of “snatch and grab” crimes. ESN/IMEI blocks are a legitimate attempt to make the value of a stolen device zero, and thus reduce the impetus to steal them in the first place.
In most states that I’m aware of knowingly trafficking in stolen property is a crime; in Florida it’s a felony:
(1) Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
(2) Any person who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property shall be guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
Other states have similar laws.
It would be trivial for eBAY to demand that only clean ESN phones be sold, to refuse listings that are not, and to require sellers to certify that they are clean and, if found not to be that the seller is held fully liable for the transaction along with being criminally referred.
So why don’t they?
That’s a darn good question, we say.