23 June, 2022
Follow Us

Tampered and Duplicate IMEI Numbers: The Problem with Current Smartphone Security

23 June, 2022

Smartphone crime is on the rise and criminals are finding new ways to resell stolen phones. Read on to discover how and what can be done about this concerning trend.

The cost of smartphones is steadily increasing, with the average phone worth around 317 USD in 2021. It’s therefore no surprise that, according to a recent study, over 70 million phones are stolen globally every year because of their high value and potential for resale on the black market. Even worse, only seven percent of lost phones are recovered. Fortunately, the LOX Network is developing the world’s first decentralized security network, designed to enhance the protection of smartphones. 

The current security model blacklists lost or stolen phones using their unique IMEI numbers (International Mobile Equipment Identity) which leaves phones locked out of their networks and unusable. However, criminals are learning new ways to bypass this current security model—through tampering and duplicating IMEI numbers. 

So, how and why are criminals tampering with IMEI numbers, wha can be done about it? 

Tampering with IMEI numbers allows criminals to resell stolen phones 

Criminals have been tampering with IMEIs for over a decade, allowing stolen phones to be taken off blacklists and resold to unsuspecting buyers. Because of this increasing problem, tampering with IMEIs is now a punishable offense in countries such as the UK, India, and Germany. This has done little to deter criminals, however. For instance, a cursory web search reveals methods for tampering with IMEIs and several video tutorials have millions of views.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for criminals to tamper with IMEI numbers. The most common method is to use a device called a “flasher” to modify the IMEI number of a smartphone manually. Largely because of this, the global smartphone crime problem is worsening, and stolen phones are put back onto the market with ease. 

Criminal gangs in India have found a way to duplicate IMEI numbers   

As well as tampering with IMEI numbers, criminals have also found a way to duplicate them.  In February 2022, seven gang members were arrested in India after using components of smartphones to make duplicate ones that look similar to branded phones like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. 

DCP Paris Deshmukh admitted that duplicate IMEIs are a significant issue in India, saying: “We have informed Mumbai police about the case because the suspects seem to have received these dubious phones with the same IMEI numbers on multiple phones from there.” With the aim of curbing the problem, India made duplicating IMEI numbers a criminal offense in 2017, punishable by up to 3 years in prison. 

It isn’t just individuals who are guilty of duplicating IMEI numbers. In June 2020, Chinese smartphone makers vivo were accused of running 13,500 phones on the same IMEI number in India. Meerut police were made aware when a sub-inspector noticed that the IMEI number on the box the phone came in was different from the one on the device. What caught the inspector’s attention was that he had just replaced the phone through a vivo service center. 

The motivation behind the duplication is unclear, although Meerut police labeled the incident an act of “gross negligence” by the phone company. 

LOX is taking on smartphone security and revolutionizing it

LOX are introducing the world’s first decentralized security network that has the significant potential to solve the current security issues surrounding the tampering and duplication of IMEI numbers. 

The LOX Network runs on a hybrid blockchain and uses a dual-NFT proof-of-ownership model. It combines both the SmartNFT and the SmartLOX NFTs to bridge a users’ digital and physical ownership of their wireless device.

LOX’s SmartNFT represents the user’s personal details including name and contact information. The LOX Network then pairs this to a SmartLOX NFT, recording the device make, model, IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), and any other unique identifiers. This bond then forms a proof-of-ownership model that forms the core of LOX’s ecosystem. 

Using a decentralized network is an enhanced method of security in comparison to solely using IMEIs, as by joining personal and phone information through an NFT, a person’s smartphone ownership is surefire. 

Learn more about the project and discover how we can better secure your wireless devices here

Join our community, stay up to date with the latest news, and take part in the conversation via our official social channels: 

Telegram LoxNetwork

Twitter LoxNetwork

Discord Lox Network

Annabel
Content Manager

© LOX Technology Limited
Company No.13083900  .