Police: mobile software hack defeating anti-theft measure
A Ukrainian group has a worldwide network of resellers to reset IMEI numbers.
by Cyrus Farivar June 8 2012
For over a year now, a French law has provided a means for law enforcement to block stolen phones and prevent them from being used. French mobile phone users are encouraged to record their IMEI number online with authorities as a precautionary measure. Once a phone is reported stolen to the police, operators are required to transmit the unique IMEI number on each phone to a European bank in Dublin, Ireland. Then, this bank is supposed to block usage of that phone, rendering it unusable.
The French newspaper Le Monde (Google Translate) reports that mobile theft in France has dropped 20 percent between April 2011 and April2012, suggesting that this measure has been somewhat effective.
However, the Paris police department has now announced that it has discovered the use of software called Z3X, which has apparently been found in 50 mobile phone shops in eastern Paris. Z3X is a Ukrainian-made tool that offers what appears to be a specific way to reset IMEI numbers on various specific phones, including models of Samsung, LG, NEC and other phones. The group has listed resellers scattered across the United States, Europe, Russia, Ukraine and Libya.