Authorities Search for Cell Phone Bandit

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A cell phone bandit is on the loose. Thomas County sheriff's investigators say he's a 20-year-old from Florida with a bad reputation among cell phone dealers.

Authorities say it's a natural progression; a new technology gains popularity and criminals find a way to exploit it. Thomas County sheriff's investigators say that's exactly what 20-year-old Donneil Cannon is doing to local cell phone dealers.

INV Jason Shoudel of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office says, "He's ordering the phones, we believe he's ordering the phones, and selling them on the street, either selling them on the street or trading them for narcotics."

Investigators say Cannon is entering cell phone stores in Thomas County, saying he is a representative for a local company and ordering phones, sometimes 30 to 40 at a time, to a Thomasville address.

But investigators say he's not a company rep. They say he's a crook. The address he gives is for his aunt’s Thomasville home.

Shoudel says, "According to the representative from Alltel, they say he's their public enemy number one."

And while Cannon's scheme is an elaborate one, crime experts say cell phone fraud is gaining popularity among criminals.

Dr. Harry Bruno, a criminal justice professor at Thomas University, says, "Cell phone fraud is coming into being now because they're so popular. There are many things that one can do to defraud an entrepreneur in the cell phone business."

In a statement to WCTV, a spokesperson from Nextel says they're working with local authorities to bring cannon to justice.

Thomas County sheriff's investigators say Cannon is a Florida resident. Investigators say he has family, and this isn't his first time in trouble.

Investigators say Donneil Cannon was released from prison about two months ago after doing time for cell phone fraud.