What is mobile phone cloning ?

Cellular phone cloning is copying the identity of one cellphone to another cellphone. The cellphones can be re-configured so that the calls are billed to other persons. The identification numbers of a victim cellphone user is stolen and re-programmed into another cellphone. 

Each cellular phone has a unique pair of identification numbers - Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and Mobile Identification Number (MIN). These numbers can be cloned without the knowledge of the subscriber or the carrier through the use of electronic scanning devices. 

Cellular thieves can capture ESN & MIN pair using devices such as cellphone ESN reader or DDI (Digital Data Interpreters) by monitoring the radio wave transmissions from the cell phones of legitimate subscribers.The ESN & MIN are then transferred into another cellphone using a computer loaded with specialised software, or a 'copycat' box, a device specially made to clone phones. There are other devices also such as Plugs and ES-Pros which are as small as a calculator that do not require computers or copycat boxes for cloning. The entire programming process takes 10-15 minutes per phone. Cloning is possible in both GSM and CDMA technologies.

Any call made with cloned phone are billed and traced to a legitimate cellphone account. Innocent subscribers end up with unexplained monthly cellphone bills. 

If you get your cellphone bill unexpectedly high, you must check the details of billing where you may find numbers whom you never called. If so, It is possible that your cellphone has been cloned and someone else is making calls using your identity. 

Many criminals use cloned cellphones for illegal activities, because their calls are not billed to them, and are therefore much more difficult to trace. Cloned phones are often used to make long distance calls, even to foreign countries. 

Pre-paid users are at lesser risk, not because their cellphones can't be cloned technically but because the misuse would be quickly detected and would be limited.

Cellphone cloning has been taking place throughout the world for long and it has been reported in India as well. The police has arrested people related to this crime in Delhi and Mumbai.