Cell phones “cloned” by using IC cards from NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s FOMA handsets were found to have been used in China and other countries illegally, according to sources. In six cases, perpetrators are thought to have taken the IC cards from disused third-generation cell phones and inserted them into other handsets, creating cloned cell phones. DoCoMo, which had previously insisted cloning its cell phones was “technically impossible,” admitted it had confirmed such clones had been found through in-house investigations.
UPDATE: DoCoMo has issued a coment [in Japanese] about this article stating that it’s a legacy issue with older FOMA model handsets. They state the function to refuse a connection with the DoCoMo side switchboard was added as of February 2006.
Fifteen-digit identification numbers are programmed into FOMA’s IC cards, and all of the information on the subscriber is encrypted. As the transmitters accept calls only when all the information about the subscriber coincides, a cell phone with an IC card taken from another phone will be unusable. The company found suspicious phone records, one of which indicated the subscriber made two calls almost simultaneously in Japan and China. It found such illegal use of cell phones in China, the Philippines and Ghana from August 2005 to February 2006. Continue >>
The company said it suspects someone illicitly obtained the FOMA handsets’ IC cards, which contain data used to identify the handsets and the legitimate users, after the contracts were canceled. The data include the 15-digit ID numbers for the handsets, the phone numbers of each customer and another handset verification code.
The IC cards, which were apparently taken to the countries from Japan, appear to have been inserted into other mobile handsets in those countries, they said. In Japan, mobile handsets can’t be used unless the telephone numbers, 15-digit handset numbers and handset verification codes match relevant data in each company’s computer systems. But telephone exchange equipment in China and other countries sometimes allows handsets to be used only by confirming the handset ID numbers. Via: The Japan Times >>