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Man Is Charged With 'Cloning' Cellular Phones

October 21, 1994|Associated Press

SAN JOSE — A San Jose man has been charged with making "clone" cellular phones that allowed users to make calls while the bills went to other unsuspecting cellular phone owners.

Federal prosecutors said Clinton L. Watson, 44, who described himself to investigators as a computer consultant and music producer, sold 1,000 of the phones for $1,000 to $2,000 each. They allege that the phones were used to defraud cellular companies of more than $500,000 in a three-month period this year.

Watson was arrested at his home Monday and charged with three counts of fraud.

A federal grand jury indictment referred to 30 altered cellular phones, 16 altered computer circuits and about 600 electronic serial numbers seized at Watson's home.

Prosecutors allege that Watson used a radio-wave scanner to record the serial numbers of passing drivers' car phones and then made the "clone" phones by tinkering with each set's serial number--embedded with a computer chip--so that its serial numbers matched one of the scanned phones.

Calls from the clones were billed to the phones of innocent owners.

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