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This Chinese company claim their device/sim card can track other cell phone locations, record phone calls and SMS. Is this possible without having access to the other phones first? What do you guys think? It looks like a scam to me. Here is the link to their website, and it is in Chinese.

http://www.ikl23.com/

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Technically speaking it is possible. If the regulations permit it, they would have no problem to identify other phones (operated by this carrier), record calls and SMSs as well. After wrapping all that information up, it could be sold as a tracking service.

All the data above is flowing in their network, so there is not technical challenge here.

I don't know China very well, but I cannot believe that such a thing is allowed, since it hurts really bad the individual's privacy. Sounds like a scam to me too.

  • I understand that a carrier can do anything they want to the traffic that goes through it. But my sources on the ground are telling me that this company has nothing to do with any carrier in China. I am inclined to think that it would not be possible if their sim is not placed on the targeted phone. If what they claim works, it would change how communications should be done when one travels to China. – user2600798 Aug 11 '15 at 21:21
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This is absolutely possible, but I am not sure if this vendor is legitimate. Law enforcement, as well as intelligence agencies in various localities and nations have access to devices called IMSI catchers, which can be used to impersonate cell phone towers.

Check Bruce Schneier's description of IMSI catchers in use by the FBI, notably the "Stingray" Brand: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/03/how_the_fbi_int.html

The technology behind them is not so sophisticated as to preclude imitations, so I see no reason why a generic manufacturer could not produce a cheap IMSI catcher and attempt to resell it. This might run afoul of regulations in the manufacturer or the recipient's nation, but, I think it is wholly possible.

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Actually, it is probably legit. The question is if it will make it through customs if you bought it.

I have heard stories of people buying cellphone jammers, SIM cloners, and all sorts from Chinese sites. It wouldn't surprise me that this works. When the Chinese scam you, its usually that you get less on the unspecified terms than you expected. For example, you buy 1000 cups from a cup shop, the first 1000 units have a base thickness of 2mm. Then as you buy more and more and more cups from them, the quality and thickness of the plastic is reduced. This is not seen as scamming in Chinese culture, more ingenious profiteering on the part of the 'scammer'.

Offering a device which does not work at all is dishonest and the opposite of ingenious profiteering.

  • I am thinking what they are selling is a sim card with micro-sd builtin and it contains an Android monitoring APK. – user2600798 Aug 11 '15 at 21:25
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Yes, it is possible to monitor cellular activity without having prior access to the device. The fine folks at iSEC partners presented Traffic Interception & Remote Mobile Phone Cloning with a Compromised CDMA Femtocell at BlackHat were they demonstrated the use of a reverse engineered off-the-shelf femtocell to intercept cellular activity. Also, recently in the news there's been reports of police using a device known as the "stingray" which has these capabilities.

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