Scam Alert -- Don't Be Fooled into Buying a Cell Phone for a Scammer

In a scam known as "credit muling," scammers are taking advantage of cash strapped victims by fooling them into purchasing new wireless contracts. Scammers take the phones, and leave victims on the hook for monthly service fees.
July 02, 2014

How the Scam Works:

A person approaches you about a quick, easy way to make some extra money. He or she will pay you to purchase several new wireless contracts and hand over the accompanying cell phones.  Don't worry about the contract, this person assures you. You'll be able to cancel it within the allotted time, typically 15 to 30 days.

When you try to cancel your new contract, however, you realize you've been conned. The companies require that you first give back the phone. Without it, you are now responsible for the monthly service fees for the length of the contract.

What are scammers doing with these phones? Scammers turn around and sell the brand new phones for a profit. After he or she "unlocks" a phone, so it's no longer tied to a particular wireless company, the scammer can sell it in the U.S. for hundreds of dollars or get thousands for it overseas. 

Like many scams, "credit muling" cons are typically targeted at those in need of money. Scammers cruise colleges and even homeless shelters in search of potential victims... but anyone can be susceptible.    

What to know about "credit mule" scams:

  • Read your contract. Yes, the fine print is long and tedious, but be sure you know exactly what you are committing to before you sign.  
  • If it sounds too good to be true... It probably is. If getting paid a couple hundred dollars just to take out a wireless contract sounds too easy, that's because it's a scam. 
  • Know the consequences of bad credit. Scammers frequently prey on students who may not know the consequences of bad credit. An unpaid cell phone bill will be sent to a collections agency, and this could make it hard to get a loan, a job or even housing later.

For More Information

Read more about credit mules on the Federal Trade Commission's blog.  

To find out more about scams or report one, check out BBB Scam Stopper.   



For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB of South Central Louisiana, Inc. has been serving the local community since 1950 and services the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge & West Feliciana.