A class-action lawsuit [PDF] has been filed against AT&T alleging the company "actively and without reservation aided, abetted, and assisted" iPhone thieves by allowing the stolen handsets to be reactivated on its network.
This lawsuit comes days after the news that carriers in the U.S. -- including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile USA -- will create a new database that will prevent handsets that have been reported as lost or stolen from being reconnected to the network.
Despite this, the three plaintiffs feel that they still have a case against AT&T and yet unnamed "Doe Corporation Entities" that were "in some way legally or proximately responsible" for "actively and without reservation aided, abetted, and assisted thieves" by "turning back on" stolen handsets.
The lawsuit goes on to outline how the carrier does this without checking with the registered owner of the handset, despite having these details on record.
"Each such cellular device is identifiable, as a hand-held cell phone, by the IMEI imprinted on the same, and said serial number is readily visible to, and apparent to, an and all stores, businesses, and Defendant employees when the device is activated or a new cell phone usage plan is turned on by defendants."
The lawsuit further claims that by reactivating these handsets AT&T and other carriers have earned "unfair and illegal profits" that have "amounted to many millions of dollars each year, for the past several years."
The plaintiffs also claim to have been told by AT&T representatives that "they will not, and cannot, block and effectively kill usage of such stolen cell phones by thieves and criminal organizations, going on to add that "such representations are false and fraudulent."
According to an AT&T spokesperson, the suit itself is "without merit, but criminals stealing smartphones is a serious issue, which is why earlier this week we joined with law enforcement, the FCC and other wireless carriers to announce additional steps to provide a comprehensive industry and government response to the problem of wireless device theft."
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