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Fake cell phone ‘towers’ may be spying on Americans’ calls, texts

More than a dozen “fake cell phone towers” could be secretly hijacking Americans’ mobile devices in order to listen in on phone calls or snoop on text messages, a security-focused cell phone company claims. It is not clear who controls the devices.

READ MORE: Tracking everywhere: Private companies offer worldwide spying tools

ESD America, which markets heavily-encrypted cell phones built within the body of a Samsung Galaxy S3, said it was able to locate numerous towers intercepting mobile communications – but does not know who is running them.

Satellite dishes and cell phone towers atop a roof of a building (AFP Photo / Thomas Coex)

Satellite dishes and cell phone towers atop a roof of a building (AFP Photo / Thomas Coex)

Speaking to Popular Science, ESD America CEO Les Goldsmith recently said that the company has used its phone – the CryptoPhone 500 – to map 17 different fake cell phone towers, dubbed “interceptors,” across the United States. Locations include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and more.

“Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated,” he told the website. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”

Although these interceptors act as fake cell phone towers, they are not necessary large, physical structures. They could simply be small mobile devices that act exactly like a real tower, deceiving phones into giving up information. Such devices are known as “stingrays,” after the brand name of one popular type of interceptor.

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