HARTFORD, CN — In a news conference held today in the U.S. Attorney's office in Hartford's Federal Building, law enforcement agents revealed that the investigation and arrests that resulted in the largest shutdown of a cellular fraud ring in the Northeast was aided by close cooperation and support between Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

Bell Atlantic NYNEX's own Fraud Control Unit helped lead agents to the suspects by helping identify the cellular bandits, using a proprietary fraud detection software system, and by providing special technical assistance.

"Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile is totally committed to eradicating cellular fraud, and cooperative efforts with law enforcement agencies are a primary example of our dedication to this mission" said Chuck Murphy, director of marketing, Northeast, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile. "In 1995 alone we assisted in the arrests of more than 300 cellular swindlers."

Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's Fraud Control Unit began working with Connecticut and federal officials on this case last March and has been working closely with them since then.

"Our ability to work with law enforcement officials nationwide is critical to our success," said Murphy. "We provide them with evidence of theft and they quickly move forward to catch criminals. Often, cellular bandits also are engaging in other illegal activities, so the police are putting a halt to additional crimes when they make a cellular fraud-related arrest."

Today's press conference revealed that the cellular fraud case led to a narcotics investigation when officers learned that a number of the cloned phones were being used by a drug trafficker in the Greater Hartford/New Britain area.

Murphy noted that while the damage from the fraud ring is still being assessed, the cellular industry estimates its losses at $1.5 million dollars a day just in the U.S.

"Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile has put a dent in the problem," said Steve Fleischer, general manager, corporate communications. "Our work with police and our PIN (Personal Identification Number) system helped reduce cellular fraud by more than 80 percent in our markets during 1995"

In 1996, the company plans to introduce at least two new fraud prevention technologies to fight fraud in its East Coast markets. In the meantime, customers can take precautions to help prevent fraud, including locking their phones, signing up for PIN code service, and reporting stolen phones immediately.

BELL ATLANTIC NYNEX Mobile, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and the second largest provider in the United States. The company offers a full range of wireless voice, data, and paging communications solutions to more than three million customers in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. The company was formed in July 1995 through the combination of Bell Atlantic Mobile's and NYNEX Mobile's cellular operations. The new company has more than 5,000 employees.