Under a 2002 law it was made illegal to change the IMEI unless you're the manufacturer.
It's a Chuck Schumer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... bill that he introduces every couple of years, it gets thrown to the Judiciary committee, and then it dies in committee. Like clockwork. Here's the text of the current bill, which is presently dying in the Judiciary committee right now: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/...:
The people who care about this are the people who traffic in stolen phones, and the people who want to buy a handset and use the same SIM in a different GSM phone, or who want to change the MEID on a new phone so that they don't have to re-up their Verizon contract once they are paying month-to-month for their CDMA phone. And the phone companies, that want you to have to re-up your contract to get a new phone. It's the same reason there's about zero incentive to update the OS in Android phones, since if they never update the OS, in order to get the new +0.0.1 version number bump, you have to get a new phone, and the manufacturer gets to sell another phone, and the phone company gets to lock you into a new 2 year contract every 18 months when the new shiny object becomes available.
Since it's a PITA to get a phone unlocked for international roaming, since it has to be listed by ID with the cell network in the country you are traveling to, and it can take many weeks to get them to actually unlock the thing, and do the registration, most times it's just easier to clone the IMEI to your old phone, and then either destroy the old phone, or do an IMEI swap. This is a common "repair/refurbish" technique, and you'll notice that it's allowed under the Schumer bill.
You might also see both NASDAQ OMX Group and TeleCommunication Systems Inc. campaign contributions, and you'll notice contributions from Facebook in 2012, the year the bill was introduced, when Facebook was going big into the mobile market. http://influenceexplorer.com/p...
Little bit of vested interest there.