What is a burn phone?Burn phones are prepaid cell phones. Also known as throwaway phones. They are used only for a limited time and can be thrown away. Sometimes they come with time on it or you have to buy minutes. You don't need a contract because you buy the phone outright.
Why do criminals like to use them?These phones are inexpensive, simple cell phones that cannot be traced by a SIM card. These phones don't require a credit card to activate because you can purchase minutes on cards with cash. In part because you don't need to give any personal information, or show any identification to buy one of these devices.
Where can burn phones be bought?Anywhere. Walmart. They are sold at large retailers like Walmart, drug stores, and even grocery stores.
Burner Phones and Crime Stories
The criminal complaint recently filed against the 10 Russian nationals on charges relating to espionage, for example include the fact that they all used prepaid cellphones, or "burn phones to communicate. These phones were used once maybe and then discarded.
For years organized crime and drug cartels have used prepaids to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.
If that wasn't bad enough cheap prepaid cellphones can be used to trigger an "improvised explosive devices" (IED's) remotely, as was the case with the recent Times Square bomb plot in New York. Police say terror suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani American citizen use a prepaid cellphone to detonate the vehicle bomb.