A man sentenced to 12 years in prison for a $ 200 million phone fraud plan


Seattle-Pakistan residents have been sentenced to 12 years in prison for plotting to “unlock” their phones from the AT & T network. According to the company, the plan cost more than $ 200 million.

Muhammad Fahd, 35, from Karachi, recruited an employee of the AT & T call center in Bothell, Washington in 2012 via Facebook and used his credentials to unlock the phone. I started giving bribes.

This allowed the phone to be removed from AT & T’s network even if the customer had not completed payment for the expensive device or the service contract had not expired. Customers can then buy cheaper services for their phones.

Fahad later had workers install malware on the company’s network, allowing them to unlock their phones from Pakistan. Prosecutors said he persisted even after the company discovered the first plan and fired two of the workers involved.

Fahd has raked in millions by selling illegal phone unlocking services through online retailers. His luxury lifestyle included frequent international trips, a $ 1,000 hotel stay per night in Dubai, and a $ 30,000 watch. According to the US Federal Attorney’s Office in Seattle, he bragged about hiring British singer-songwriter Jay Sean to have a wedding for $ 100,000.

He paid $ 922,000 to three AT & T workers from 2012 to 2017 before being arrested in Hong Kong in early 2018. AT & T’s forensic analysis found that more than 1.9 million phones were unlocked as part of a plot.

The company bases its $ 200 million loss solely on phones that were removed from the network before the customer paid the full amount, and does not include the amount lost in the service contract. The prosecution said such losses would have been passed on to consumers and shareholders in terms of overall price increases.

Fahad was handed over to the United States in 2019 and was convicted of a wire fraud plot a year ago and sentenced Thursday.

“The defendant is a modern cybercriminal who combines his technical expertise with old-fashioned techniques such as bribery, intimidation and exploitation,” US Federal Attorney Deputy Tessa M. Gorman said in a news release. increase.

Mr Fahad apologized in a letter to Judge Robert Rasnick of the U.S. District Court, but did not help the U.S. government recover fraudulent assets, prosecutors said. They said Fahad earned at least $ 5.3 million, based on the limited records they could find.

“Over time, I became obsessed with money and the idea that I was doing the wrong thing disappeared,” writes Fahad. “I didn’t know that, but I was on the road to self-destruction. To make matters worse, my cheating destroyed the lives of those around me.”

Raznick ordered him to pay more than $ 200 million in damages.

Two AT & T workers who played a smaller role in the plot were sentenced to probation. Last week, Rasnick sentenced a third Mark Sapatin, who was the main contact at Fahad’s company, to 18 months in prison.

Associated Press