Police say disposable phone numbers can be untraceable, making it hard for investigators and consumers to know who they are dealing with when it comes to caller ID.
Frank Yates does not have a problem posting ads with his phone numbers for potential buyers to text him. For the past three months, he has sold items on Craigslist from inside his garage.
But what he did not know is the person he communicated with to arrange a sale used an app and fake number to set up the deal. The app will not allow the receiver to trace the call after a set amount of time.
Thomas Bledsoe demonstrated just how fast the app works. "It's a 24 hour number," said Bledsoe as he introduced the app called "Burner".
In seconds, it generates a disposable number that disappears after 24 hours.
"Just a number out of thin air," said Bledsoe.
In the demo, Bledsoe's number showed up on caller ID as a Connecticut number. The number is also hard to trace if that number is used in a crime.
"The criminal element is always gonna find an easy way to conduct their crimes," said Lt. Mark Little.
Cops say this app just makes it easier for criminals to hide their identities. "It's something that we could eventually find, but it's not gonna be an easy task," said Little.
As buying and selling online comes with much caution, Yates said the Burner app does not bother him.
"I have no problem with that. I mean you questioned me about meeting privately and in a public place. And I wasn't able to because I had multiple people coming," he said.
Yates did not hesitate to give out his number to the investigators who used the Burner app because he has an enhanced carry permit.
"Be aware that there can be problems, you gotta try to prepare for it, and just look at the information you've got," he said.
On the flip side, Burner can be used with good intentions.
Users can use it to protect their privacy, and that is what the app's manufacturer says is the intended use. Burner's website encourages users to use the app whenever they do not want to leave personal information.
Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.
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