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FBI Investigates Cell Phone Purchase ($60,000 worth of prepaid cell phones)
NBC.com - Dallas/Fort Worth ^ | October 31, 2005 | NBC5

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.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Texas; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: cellphones; counterterrorism; fbi; jihadinamerica; prepaidcellphones
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Good thing the clerk was not a librarian.

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.

1 posted on 11/04/2005 2:58:25 PM PST by LurkedLongEnough
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To: LurkedLongEnough

I agree they NEED to invetigate and bust his balls if need be. But why this is in the media is beyond me.


2 posted on 11/04/2005 3:00:20 PM PST by pissant
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To: LurkedLongEnough

The average American citizen IS our ultimate defense.


3 posted on 11/04/2005 3:00:43 PM PST by caisson71
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: LurkedLongEnough

They have to have him on store video.


5 posted on 11/04/2005 3:02:15 PM PST by MarkeyD (Cindy - The new 'C' word! I really, really loathe liberals.)
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To: LurkedLongEnough
This guy paid $60,0000 cash?

If nothing else it would be a clever idea to launder the money. Buy phones and re-sell them for "clean" cash.
6 posted on 11/04/2005 3:03:13 PM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: caisson71
The average American citizen IS our ultimate defense.

Except this guy.


7 posted on 11/04/2005 3:03:34 PM PST by Hank Rearden (Never allow anyone who could only get a government job attempt to tell you how to run your life.)
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To: LurkedLongEnough
This guy would have to be really stupid to buy that many cell phones for nefarious purposes. He would have to know it would set off alarm bells.

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.

8 posted on 11/04/2005 3:12:20 PM PST by adamsjas
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To: LurkedLongEnough

I'm not sure if actually giving him the phones was a good idea, though.


9 posted on 11/04/2005 3:13:01 PM PST by AmericanChef
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To: LurkedLongEnough
Actually that particular scenario happens all the time. After hurricane Katrina, we sold hundreds of walkie-talkies to everyone from animal rescuers to relief workers.

$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.

10 posted on 11/04/2005 3:15:28 PM PST by Sender (Team Infidel USA)
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To: AmericanChef
Exact same thing happens at Wal-Mart every day. The local store where my wife works had to put a limit of 5 phones per customer just to keep them in stock. People started showing up in groups then and buying 5 for each person in the group to get around the limit...

It's weird I know, but I do suspect this is a common re-selling strategy.

11 posted on 11/04/2005 3:16:43 PM PST by Lloyd227
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To: LurkedLongEnough

They let him walk out of the store?


12 posted on 11/04/2005 3:16:57 PM PST by nuffsenuff (Don't get stuck on Stupid - General Russ Honore Sept 21, 2005)
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To: LurkedLongEnough

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.


\sarc


13 posted on 11/04/2005 3:19:31 PM PST by Casekirchen (If allah is really another name for the Judeo-Christian God, why do the islamics pray to a rock?)
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To: LurkedLongEnough
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 send him to a secret CIA prison and torture him until he tells everything.
14 posted on 11/04/2005 3:19:32 PM PST by Jim Noble (Non, je ne regrette rien)
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To: nuffsenuff
They let him walk out of the store?

Any sumb!tch big enough to walk out with $30k worth of phones, twice, would likely get a pass.....

15 posted on 11/04/2005 3:21:51 PM PST by ARealMothersSonForever (Proud to be named as a member of the Radical Right Wing. Vast Right Wing got old.)
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To: LurkedLongEnough
Something doesn't "smell" right here. I find it difficult to buy the premise that a single Target store had $60,000 in inventory tied up in a a single SKU category Prepaid Cell Phones. With Return on Investment a key indicator of wise retail management, NO store would have that quantity in stock. This was a special order and should have raised eyebrows before the transaction was executed.
16 posted on 11/04/2005 3:23:33 PM PST by Knute (W- Yep, He's STILL the President!)
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To: LurkedLongEnough

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.


17 posted on 11/04/2005 3:26:04 PM PST by oceanview
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To: pissant

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.


18 posted on 11/04/2005 3:29:33 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: adamsjas
How many phones constitutes 60 thousand dollars worth?

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.

19 posted on 11/04/2005 3:30:47 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: Emmett McCarthy

good observations.


20 posted on 11/04/2005 3:32:37 PM PST by pissant
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To: Knute
This was a special order and should have raised eyebrows before the transaction was executed.

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.

21 posted on 11/04/2005 3:34:19 PM PST by ARealMothersSonForever (Proud to be named as a member of the Radical Right Wing. Vast Right Wing got old.)
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To: Emmett McCarthy
Well, if you have a one-way ticket, TSA gives you "special screening".

Did they stamp SSSS on your boarding pass? (It's an Arabic acronym that translates to "Praise Allah, the operation is postponed.").

22 posted on 11/04/2005 3:35:56 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: Emmett McCarthy
Tell that to the 92,872 posts complaining about random searches. The minute you announce that people in wheelchairs will not be searched... The profiles have to be keep secret - and given the performance of the TSA, I'm not sure I trust them.
23 posted on 11/04/2005 3:37:36 PM PST by Wally_Kalbacken
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To: LurkedLongEnough

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!


24 posted on 11/04/2005 3:40:29 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Sender

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.


25 posted on 11/04/2005 3:41:04 PM PST by ErnBatavia (Like a midget at a urinal - stay on your toes)
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To: AmericanChef

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."


26 posted on 11/04/2005 3:42:00 PM PST by jwh_Denver (PO'd politically? Write, fax, call, or email your representatives and pitch a pig.)
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To: Revolting cat!
strawberries on sale

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.

27 posted on 11/04/2005 3:45:15 PM PST by ARealMothersSonForever (Proud to be named as a member of the Radical Right Wing. Vast Right Wing got old.)
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To: cynwoody

Maybe he makes it up in volume?

Seriously, it sounds like a money-laundering scheme.


28 posted on 11/04/2005 3:50:51 PM PST by texas booster (Bless the legal immigrants!)
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To: ARealMothersSonForever

Good point.


29 posted on 11/04/2005 3:52:31 PM PST by nuffsenuff (Don't get stuck on Stupid - General Russ Honore Sept 21, 2005)
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To: AmericanChef

Why didn't he call the FBI immediately and tell the guy he'd have to come back for the phones.


30 posted on 11/04/2005 3:53:53 PM PST by wildbill
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To: cynwoody

Yep, the SSSS secret code was on my boarding pass, except I refuse to spell 'allah' with capital letters.


31 posted on 11/04/2005 3:55:01 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: ErnBatavia
You can get Verizon prepaid for $70-150, minutes cost about 10c each but it'll cost ya almost 30 bucks a month to maintain your account on top of that.

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.

32 posted on 11/04/2005 3:55:17 PM PST by Sender (Team Infidel USA)
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To: adamsjas

Nextel walkie-talkies?


33 posted on 11/04/2005 3:56:54 PM PST by MonroeDNA (Look for the union label--on the bat crashing through your windshield!)
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To: LurkedLongEnough
Thank you, Target.

And damn the librarians.

34 posted on 11/04/2005 3:57:47 PM PST by OldFriend (The Dems enABLEd DANGER and 3,000 Americans died.)
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To: adamsjas

It's not obvious when ME guys ask for, and receive, plane flying instructions not including landing and take off.


35 posted on 11/04/2005 3:58:09 PM PST by MonroeDNA (Look for the union label--on the bat crashing through your windshield!)
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To: wildbill

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.


36 posted on 11/04/2005 3:58:50 PM PST by isom35
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To: wildbill

Like the 1993 WTC guy trying to get his van deposit back.


37 posted on 11/04/2005 3:58:51 PM PST by LurkedLongEnough
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To: Wally_Kalbacken

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.


38 posted on 11/04/2005 4:00:20 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: LurkedLongEnough

This is BS, FBI looking at purchases because it is some perceived "quantity" issue?


39 posted on 11/04/2005 4:00:58 PM PST by dakine
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To: pissant

Thank you.


40 posted on 11/04/2005 4:01:11 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: ARealMothersSonForever
Cell phones are different however. 'Gray marketing' 1000 phones is not only illegal but it puts 1000 more addresses on the network somewhere, not a small thing.

A single Target store cannot possibly obtain 1000 cell phones. In a year.

41 posted on 11/04/2005 4:02:47 PM PST by Sender (Team Infidel USA)
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To: LurkedLongEnough

Im surprised that Target has $60,000 worth of Cell Phones in stock.


42 posted on 11/04/2005 4:02:51 PM PST by Husker24
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To: oceanview
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.

Why stop there? Drug dealers and terrorists use the internet too! Oh no! Let's just ban everything.

43 posted on 11/04/2005 4:04:05 PM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: Revolting cat!
"I was sent to the nearby supermarket to buy some strawberries on sale. I was buying something like a dozen baskets..."

"Ah, but the strawberries! That's, that's where I had them."

44 posted on 11/04/2005 4:04:35 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum.)
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To: Sir Gawain

when you use the internet, you have an IP address.


45 posted on 11/04/2005 4:06:29 PM PST by oceanview
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To: Sender
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.

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).

46 posted on 11/04/2005 4:07:33 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: LurkedLongEnough
Note the store name: 'Target'. Hint, hint! (Get it?)

(If you don't get it, send me FReepmail, I'll patiently 'splain.)


47 posted on 11/04/2005 4:08:31 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: oceanview
when you use the internet, you have an IP address.

Quite so. Possibly yours, if you have an unsecured WiFi access point.

48 posted on 11/04/2005 4:09:17 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: Sender
A single Target store cannot possibly obtain 1000 cell phones. In a year.

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?

49 posted on 11/04/2005 4:11:10 PM PST by ARealMothersSonForever (Proud to be named as a member of the Radical Right Wing. Vast Right Wing got old.)
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To: cynwoody

yes, I know. these pre-paid cellphones are totally untraceable - especially in a "use once and discard" manner.


50 posted on 11/04/2005 4:15:10 PM PST by oceanview
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