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Are Cellphone “ATMs” Encouraging Theft?

Submitted by on May 23, 2013 – 3:16 pmNo Comment

EcoATM seems like a great idea: dispose of your old cellphone safely in a machine at the mall, and get cash immediately for it. But some say the machines are encouraging cellphone thefts, making it easier than ever for criminals to offload their goods.

Jeff Rossen of the Today Show reports that Washington DC police chief Cathy Lanier calls EcoATMs “a motivator for the criminal element,” adding that they can offer up to $300 cash on the spot for a phone.

Rossen cites one woman who tracked her stolen phone to such a machine, and quotes the DC police saying they have traced 200 stolen devices to EcoATMs.

The machines require people selling their phones to scan a Driver’s License, and then take a photo to confirm that they are the same person. Not only does this not stop people from using fake IDs, but the Today Show report found that two different EcoATMs allowed a woman to use an ID with a photo that looked nothing like her.

Small electronics theft, especially of iPhones, is on the rise across the country and accounts for many increases in crime where it is otherwise falling. It always pays to remember to keep your devices out of sight in public.

What do you think? Should something be done about EcoATMs?

[via NBC]

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