Machines offer cash on the spot for used cellphones

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Police are concerned about the dangers of new machines that allow you to sell your old cellphone for cash.

The machines are popping up in malls all over metro Atlanta and police say despite their convenience, they may become the latest hotspot for thieves to cash in.

The EcoATMs have been installed in 11 area malls, including Sugarloaf Mills in Gwinnett County and Underground Atlanta.

Channel 2's Tony Thomas stopped by several of the locations, and found the machines in use everywhere he went.

The machine scans a seller's device, rates it, and coughs up cash on the spot.

"Criminals could look at this as an easy way to steal a phone, sell it and walk away scott free," Sgt. Greg Lyon of the Atlanta Police Department said.

Only a handful of stolen phones have been found in the machines in the Atlanta area, but police worry it could become a crime wave similar to copper thefts.

Gwinnett police said they are looking at laws that might allow them to regulate the machines, similar to pawn shop rules already on the books.

"We've spent a lot of time and energy making EcoATMs the worst place for thieves to get rid of phones," Ryan Kuder of EcoATM told Thomas via Skype.

Kuder said the systems scan a driver's license, and a live person via remote camera makes sure the ID is valid and matches the person selling the phone.

"We do that we can to cut down on the number of stolen phones that come into our systems," Kuder said.

Kuder said the rate of stolen phones so far is only around one in every four or five thousand devices taken it.