Skip to comments.FBI Investigates Cell Phone Purchase ($60,000 worth of prepaid cell phones)
Posted on 11/04/2005 2:58:25 PM PST by LurkedLongEnough
DALLAS -- A Target store employee alerted Dallas police to a recent extraordinary cellular telephone equipment purchase. A man bought $60,000 worth of hard-to-trace prepaid cell phones.
The size of the purchase raised suspicions among police investigators, who turned over the case to the FBI.
"Those notifications are taken seriously," former FBI agent Danny Defenbaugh said. "Anytime a business or private citizen sees that type of activity, they need to go the extra step and notify law enforcement."
The large purchase caused investigators to look toward possible homeland security threats. On two occasions during October, a man of Middle Eastern descent bought $30,000 worth of prepaid cell phones. Security experts told NBC 5 that the FBI would work to identify the man and determine why he would buy the hard-to-trace phones.
Officials with the FBI and Target declined to comment on the case other than to say they were pleased that the clerk reported the purchase.
Anecdotal similar news: After 9/11, a "suspicious" man also had been looking for "many" walkie-talkies at Radio Shack, but the one store didn't have "enough" in stock so the same guy purchased intercommunicatable w-t's at multiple stores. Connect the dots.
I agree they NEED to invetigate and bust his balls if need be. But why this is in the media is beyond me.
The average American citizen IS our ultimate defense.
They have to have him on store video.
The thing you need to worry about is the Middle Easterns male between 18 and 45 who buys two phones, pays cash, and hurries out the door.
With two you can trigger your bomb remotely and unutterably.
How many phones constitutes 60 thousand dollars worth?
Did he get two or five phones and pay with a credit card because half his family is back home and international calls are really expensive, or did he buy a hundred phones for his delivery truck drivers and pay with a company check?
I'm glad the FBI is looking into this, but it seems too obvious to me.
I'm not sure if actually giving him the phones was a good idea, though.
$60K worth of cell phones however is about 600-1200 phones, this is not only suspicious but at Radio Shack we won't sell more than 5 handsets to anyone. I suspect none of the cell phone providers would allow such a mass sale.
It's weird I know, but I do suspect this is a common re-selling strategy.
They let him walk out of the store?
What we need immediately is a 5 day waiting (cooling off) period before the purchase of any cell phone, a national database run by the FBI to make sure that all cell phone buyers are ok, and cell phone registration.
Hey, if controlling cell phones saves just one life, its worth it.
Any sumb!tch big enough to walk out with $30k worth of phones, twice, would likely get a pass.....
I've been saying for a while on these terror threads - these need to be made illegal. drug dealers use them, the terror possibility, no traceability, etc.
I agree that this should not be made public. It just announces to the bad guys that someone's on to them. This week a family emergency required me to fly and, not knowing when I'd be coming back, I bought one-way tickets one at a time over a 2 day period. Well, if you have a one-way ticket, TSA gives you "special screening". I said, "Don't you think the bad guys will just make sure they buy round-trip tickets?". When you "telegraph" your punches like that, you're gonna lose the fight.
Well, a quick look at Target's web site reveals a nifty Virgin Mobile model for 89.99. So, about 666?
But you are quite right. This story is alarmist nonsense. You only need two to trigger a bomb remotely, and a careful terrorist would buy them one at a time at different stores.
It would be interesting to know what use the buyer had in mind, however. I doubt it was reselling on Ebay. If it costs $90 at Target, I'd expect to pay $45 on Ebay.
I am rather surprised at the number of folks here that advocate against capitalism. There are many transactions that go through companies like Graybar and Grainger (large industrial supply warehouses) that top $60-$80k in mid-sized cities every day. These items include lasers, GPS receivers, network time sources, even gas-fired furnaces! Imagine the mayhem that could be wrought with such things. Sheesh, sounds to me like this guy was just gray-marketing some phones to send down south of the border. So that the smugglers of drugs and humans can alert their ICE buddies to turn their back. When Nextel bought up a bunch of pager frequencies, you have no idea how creative the criminals had to get.
Did they stamp SSSS on your boarding pass? (It's an Arabic acronym that translates to "Praise Allah, the operation is postponed.").
I remember a long time ago, when I was working at an upscale restaurant, I was sent to the nearby supermarket to buy some strawberries on sale. I was buying something like a dozen baskets, and the store personnel eyed me with deep suspicion, as did a passing patrol car when I walked back (I had an apron on.) They might have even called the FBI!
So these run 50 to 100 bucks each? How many "minutes" do you get on these, and do they cover nation wide? Maybe I should consider a dumpable version versus my Verizon Wireless, since I seldom use the thing.
I'm not sure if actually giving him the phones was a good idea, though.
That's what I think. "Hey, we'll take his money and THEN call the local lint."
If you had screwed up and bought 4 tubs of ReadyWhip at the same time, you would have deserved detention. WMD violation. Wildly Malicious Dessert.
Maybe he makes it up in volume?
Seriously, it sounds like a money-laundering scheme.
Why didn't he call the FBI immediately and tell the guy he'd have to come back for the phones.
Yep, the SSSS secret code was on my boarding pass, except I refuse to spell 'allah' with capital letters.
IMHO it's better to keep a minimum contract. That way you have 450 minutes for 10 bucks more than zero minutes with a prepaid phone.
Unless you either a: never use the phone or b: don't want anyone to know who you are.
And damn the librarians.
It's not obvious when ME guys ask for, and receive, plane flying instructions not including landing and take off.
no way! have you never seen an episode of 24? (Jack Bauer Power Hour) here's how Jack would play it: let purchase go thru, delay the guy a while till Jack gets on his tail, then let Jack follow the guy to see who he is working for/with. It might turn out to be the dude from the Mummy movies, who escapes Jack by running upstairs.
Like the 1993 WTC guy trying to get his van deposit back.
There shouldn't be "random" searches. There should be well and thoroughly profiled searches. The rag on the guy's head ought to be kind of a clue.
Maybe we should have "mooslim only" flights each with several openly and heavily armed air marshalls aboard.
The poor dumb slobs who work for TSA gotta do what they're told by their bosses. It's just that their bosses are idiots.
This is BS, FBI looking at purchases because it is some perceived "quantity" issue?
A single Target store cannot possibly obtain 1000 cell phones. In a year.
Im surprised that Target has $60,000 worth of Cell Phones in stock.
Why stop there? Drug dealers and terrorists use the internet too! Oh no! Let's just ban everything.
when you use the internet, you have an IP address.
Prepaid came in handy for me last summer on a visit to the UK. Much cheaper than roaming on my regular US account. £25 for a SIM card and good to go. Recharged once, on my AX. Service was excellent (I used Orange).
(If you don't get it, send me FReepmail, I'll patiently 'splain.)
Quite so. Possibly yours, if you have an unsecured WiFi access point.
I do not work at a Target, so I cannot accurately dispute this. However, I do know a little about wireless networks. Autoregistering 1000 phones on a network would take all of milliseconds. Take the average US airport. Do you have any idea how many tens of thousands of wireless devices register on networks every day?
yes, I know. these pre-paid cellphones are totally untraceable - especially in a "use once and discard" manner.