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Those readers suffering from deep feelings of social inadequacy as they watch their affluent friends sending full-colour polyphonic video clips or 3D Java-enabled text messages from their 3G handsets might be interested in the following guide to obtaining any mobile phone for nothing.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, the following seemingly implausible method to achieve technological nirvana has already been fully field tested in China, and it works. Try this:

  • Posing as an investor from Taiwan, chat up woman in beauty parlour and convince her to accompany you to mobile phone shop.

  • Select phone and ask to test it outside.

  • Allay shop assistant's suspicions by leaving "wife" and envelope stuffed with cash as deposit.

  • Leg it with phone, leaving police to arrest woman and discover that "cash" is actually nothing more than waste paper.

  • Enjoy the admiration of your friends at your new acquisition.

Brilliant. We salute the rogue who recently pulled off this audacious coup in Lingyuanxilu, Guangzhou Province, and made off with a Nokia handset. For the record, his "accomplice" was able to convince police that she knew nothing of the plan, and had only known the man for three days. She was quickly released. ®

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