Amazon bans FlipperZero gadget after it ignited a TikTok prank wave
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Amazon has banned the sale of the ‘FlipperZero’ gadget, a handheld device designed to hack into digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals. 

First released in the summer of 2020, the tool took off this year as it fueled a TikTok prank wave.

The online retail giant decided to ban the product after it became clear its hacking abilities are also able to clone credit card information, breaking the company’s rules on card-skimming.

And in a disturbing look at how easily public digital waves are intercepted, social media has become flooded with pranksters switching off restaurant screens, opening card-locked doors and meddling with vehicles. 

The FlipperZero gadget allows users to hack into digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals at the touch of a button

The FlipperZero gadget allows users to hack into digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals at the touch of a button

The FlipperZero gadget allows users to hack into digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals at the touch of a button 

While often used for social media pranks, the tool has more nefarious uses - including the ability to intercept a remote car key signal

While often used for social media pranks, the tool has more nefarious uses - including the ability to intercept a remote car key signal

While often used for social media pranks, the tool has more nefarious uses – including the ability to intercept a remote car key signal 

The tech is also able to open doors locked through a key card, as it can read and remember digital frequency information for later use

The tech is also able to open doors locked through a key card, as it can read and remember digital frequency information for later use

The tech is also able to open doors locked through a key card, as it can read and remember digital frequency information for later use 

The FlipperZero device, which was retailing for $169, is not solely designed for tricking unsuspecting victims, and its use will remind some of retro ‘Tamagotchi’ games. 

Users play with a digital pet dolphin that they ‘feed’ by hacking into frequencies, which is done through an electronic multi-tool that can hack into a feed at the click of a button. 

In videos shared across social media, students have been seen using it to disrupt classes by turning off smart boards and annoying their friends by shutting down screens when they are in a live video game. 

In another, a user was able to hack into the digital wallpaper in a restaurant and menu screens in a fast-food chain. 

Built through a crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $5 million three years ago, Flipper Zero hardly shies away from its capabilities, with its website noting that the toy ‘loves hacking digital stuff, such as radio protocols, access control systems, hardware and more.’ 

Many have used the gadget to frustrate those around them through harmless pranks, like turning off a video game or switching the channel on a TV inside a business. 

However, the tool also appears to have more nefarious uses, including using its sub-1 GHz radio feature to mimic the signals on a car’s key remote control to unlock it. 

This potential is limited, however, as most modern cars have a ‘rolling encryption’ scheme that replaces the wave used to unlock a car with each click that is not overridden by the FlipperZero, according to HowToGeek

For older cars, they may be more vulnerable.

In a clip shared to social media, a user was able to use the FlipperZero to hack into electronic wallpaper in a restaurant and turn them off

In a clip shared to social media, a user was able to use the FlipperZero to hack into electronic wallpaper in a restaurant and turn them off

In a clip shared to social media, a user was able to use the FlipperZero to hack into electronic wallpaper in a restaurant and turn them off 

The tool was banned by Amazon because of its card skimming technology. In a demonstration, it was shown how credit card information could be stolen easily, including on Apple Pay, so long as the fraudster has access to the card itself

The tool was banned by Amazon because of its card skimming technology. In a demonstration, it was shown how credit card information could be stolen easily, including on Apple Pay, so long as the fraudster has access to the card itself

The tool was banned by Amazon because of its card skimming technology. In a demonstration, it was shown how credit card information could be stolen easily, including on Apple Pay, so long as the fraudster has access to the card itself 

The tool has a similarly contemptable option for financial frauds, as it is able to scan and remember credit card information – including through your smart phone. 

To be able to hack into a credit card, the device must be held over the card directly, and it does not appear to be able to gain access through a wallet. 

Similarly, the FlipperZero is able to steal card information over smart phone features such as Apple Pay, however the phone needs to be unlocked for it to do so. 

In clips of the device causing havoc on the streets shared to social media, some users appear to use it to intercept wireless signals controlling traffic barriers. 

This same wireless signal interception would reportedly also allow the tool to change signs at a gas station and intercept overhead announcements at supermarkets. 

Hotels that use RFID cards for their hotel rooms, which is most that allow you to tap to unlock a door, may also be wary of the tech as it can open a card-locked door. 

Thanks to its ability to read and then save an RFID card wave, all a hacker would need to do is read a hotel room key for a few seconds with a FlipperZero to then gain access to the room.  

The technology will remind some of the retro 'Tamagotchi' games, as users play with a digital dolphin that they 'feed' by hacking into frequencies

The technology will remind some of the retro 'Tamagotchi' games, as users play with a digital dolphin that they 'feed' by hacking into frequencies

The technology will remind some of the retro ‘Tamagotchi’ games, as users play with a digital dolphin that they ‘feed’ by hacking into frequencies 

While many appear to have played essentially harmless pranks with the gadget, its card-skimming ability has seen it banned from Amazon.

The retailer has specific policies to prevent ‘credit card skimmer’ technology being available on its platform, with the FlipperZero machine’s tap-to-pay card reader determined to have breached the rules. 

According to Bleeping Computer, Amazon sent a warning to third party sellers to stop selling the technology in a notice. 

‘This product has been identified as a card skimming device. Amazon policy prohibits the sale or listing of card skimming devices,’ the notice reportedly read. 

‘We took this action because this product is not permitted for sale on Amazon.com. It is your obligation to make sure the products you offer comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon’s policies.’ 

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