A man who unlocked AT&T customers’ phones for a fee, the Justice Department says, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what a judge reportedly called “a horrific cybercrime over an extended period of time.” , it usually continued even after the authorities were there. on plan. .
According to a news release from the DOJ, in 2012, Muhammad Fahd, a citizen of Pakistan and Grenada, contacted an AT&T employee via Facebook to help employees secretly unlock AT&T phones. significant amount”, which frees customers from any installment agreement payments and AT&T service.
According to the DOJ, Fahd used the alias Frank Zhang, and persuaded an AT&T employee to recruit other employees to his call center in Bothell, Washington, to help with detailed planning. Fahd instructed AT&T employees to set up fake business and fake bank accounts to receive payments and create fake invoices for deposits in fake accounts to show that money was exchanged as part of the scheme. it was done. – Payment for legal services was provided.
In 2013, however, AT&T introduced a new unlocking system that made it harder for Fahd’s crew to unlock the phone’s unique IMEI numbers, so according to the DOJ, they decided to install a device called AT&T. TK can be installed on the computer system. Hired a developer to design the malware. This reportedly allows him to unlock more phones, and do so more efficiently. The DOJ said that AT&T employees working with Fahadh helped him gain access to information about his systems and the credentials of other employees, which allowed his developer to more precisely craft the malware.
A forensic analysis conducted by AT&T revealed that Fahd and his associates fraudulently unlocked more than 1.9 million phones, which cost the company more than $200 million. Fahd was arrested in Hong Kong in 2018 and extradited to the US in 2019. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September 2020.
It’s not clear from the DOJ’s release whether anyone other than AT&T suffered losses as a result of the plan; There is no mention of customers’ phones otherwise tampered with or accessing any personal data. We have contacted the DOJ to clarify whether any AT&T customers were affected.