Smartphone usage have gained traction only over the past few years, but they are already the most popular gadgets on Earth. Naturally, responding to such wild popularity, thieves have also taken a fondness to smartphones. And this has resulted in a huge, global market for stolen smartphones. The Huffington Post is running a series to uncover the global market of stolen smartphones.
Typically, smartphones are stolen or snatched by individuals who then take these stolen goods to a middleman. Middlemen, in this case, are typically bulk purchasers. These purchasers aggregate a huge volume of the stolen smartphones and then ship them out to other countries, making big money.
In a recent case, federal agents raided Ace Wholesale storefront in Michigan. Every day, numerous individuals were seen bringing shopping bags full of stolen smartphones to the store and then heading out with bundles of cash. After investigations, the federal officials were able to establish that the storefront was used to purchase illegal goods and export them elsewhere.
The biggest problem for the authorities, in this case, is that the storefronts aren’t exactly engaging in an illegal activity. They essentially serve only as middlemen, shipping the stolen smartphones to other countries where they are then sold for far greater prices, thus bringing in huge profits.
This also affects wireless carriers who are usually offering the latest smartphones at subsidized rates, when bundled with their data plans. Once a smartphone goes missing, the data plan is disturbed, costing the carrier significantly. At the same time, these stolen smartphones are often used for a number of illegal activities, both in the U.S. and internationally. The federal authorities are trying to clamp down on the entire trade but the sheer volume suggests that it will be a while before the government is able to do anything about it.