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West Ventura County Focus

OXNARD : Man, 21, Arrested in Phone 'Clone' Case

December 06, 1994|JULIE FIELDS

Oxnard police have arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of arranging to have cellular phones "cloned" so calls could be billed to other customers.

Kip Cyrus Sweeney allegedly offered customers at Crossover Cellular in Oxnard the option of having their phones activated legitimately or reprogrammed with someone else's electronic serial number, said Oxnard Police Detective Len Newcomb.

Sweeney was taken into custody about 5 p.m. Thursday after agreeing to illegally clone a cellular phone for two Secret Service agents working undercover, Newcomb said.

"He was pretty blatant about that," Newcomb said. "He just said to our operators, 'You want it set up legitimately or do you want me to have it chipped for you?' "

As payment for the cloning, Sweeney agreed to accept three pagers that the agents told him were stolen, Newcomb said.

Sweeney's arrest was the second in two weeks in the county in connection with cellular phone fraud.

On Nov. 29, sheriff's detectives raided the homes of two accused drug dealers. Along with methamphetamine and guns, they seized equipment used for reprogramming cellular-phone chips.

Sweeney, who lives in Oxnard, was booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of attempting to receive stolen property and phone fraud, both felonies. He was released Friday on a promise to appear in court.

Newcomb said the actual reprogramming appears to have been done by another Ventura County resident, but he would not say if further arrests are expected.

At the time of Sweeney's arrest, police seized one cloned phone in the small office in the Union Bank Building.

Police do not yet know how many phones Sweeney arranged to have modified or the amount of calls placed illegally.

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