Several large purchases of prepaid cellular phones at central and south western Missouri Walmart stores have put local police on edge and attracted the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (archived). In the United States prepaid cellular phones are one of the most popular affordable ways for lower income population to receive phone service. Macon county sheriff's department detective Curt Glover offered:
There's no violation of criminal law, as far as we're aware. They can go to a retail store and buy as many items as they wish. But when they buy a high number of one item most people wouldn't buy, it's cause for suspicion.
This perfectly represents the attitude of the "law enforcement" regime in the United States, that commerce unrelated to the promotion of obesity is a natural subject of suspicion. Substantial noise is made by these "law enforcement" agencies about how said prepaid phones are "anonymous" and "secure" in spite of their vulnerability to any of the same tools which may be used to identify and track other cellular phones. It would be safe to assume that due to the promotion of prepaid phones in this way that their operation is likely already subjected to enhanced scrutiny by "law enforcement" agencies. Police attention initially came in this case when an employee of the Walmart in Lebanon, Missouri reported "foreign speaking"1 men buying 60 phones at 4 am local time.
If these purchasers were indeed purchasing these phones for their potential privacy value they were right to buy in bulk. It would be safest to treat these things as disposable. Still purchasing these quantities from single sources is far from ideal as there is potential to bring exactly this sort of normally undesirable attention.2