It may be terrorism, or it may be immigrants (Hispanic or Arab) trying to make an honest buck.
I bought a Virgin Mobile USA cellphone (uses Sprint PCS network) prepaid phone for my wife over Christmas at WalMart. The phone cost $19. No activation required for purchase (phone locked to Virgin Mobile).
It is a Nokia 2115i. It uses the BL-6C Nokia battery. That battery sells for $49 on the Nokia website.
I thought about buying more of the phones and selling the new batteries on eBay and disposing of the phone units, but decided it was too much hassle, and not doing ViMo well.