Man gets 12 years in prison in US for cell phone unlock scheme

A man of 200 was sentenced to years in prison, in the United States, for being the operator of an irregular cell phone unlocking scheme that would have cost more than US$ 12 millions to the American operator AT&T. The fraud would have been carried out over seven years and also had the participation of telecom employees, who allowed access to the company’s internal systems and even installed physical devices so that the processes could be carried out remotely.

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  • Pakistani Muhammad Fahd had been imprisoned since 2012 for commanding the scheme that would have started in 200 and resulted in the unlocking of more than 1.9 million smartphones, according to the US Department of Justice inquiry. To make the operation work, he bribed employees of an AT&T call center in the US state of Washington, who were also identified and are being sued by the company.

    The professionals would have received hundreds of thousands of dollars, a portion of the amount paid by Fahd’s customers for the unlocking of the devices, which worked only on the telecom network. The scheme lasted about a year, until the operator implemented a system that prevented unlocking; this did not prevent the continuity of the scheme, with the giant’s collaborators now being paid to deliver information and network secrets that led to the development of malicious tools that still allowed for unlocking.

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    The scheme started to involve the use of malware to collect information from AT&T’s network and even the use of devices without wire that allowed the unlocking to continue. The result was continued fraudulent access to internal systems, which allowed for the continuation of irregular unlockings and the development of more sophisticated tools, capable of overcoming new barriers that were placed by telecom.

    Companies were used to launder money paid by Fahd’s clients, who ended up in 2018 Hong Kong and was extradited to the United States for about a year and half after. He has been in prison since then and has had his sentence lessened, on charges of conspiracy and bank fraud, for having confessed his guilt before the court in September of last year.

    In a statement originally published in 2012, when the scam first became public, AT&T reported that sensitive customer and partner data was not obtained through intrusion into internal networks. The company is now going ahead with lawsuits against former employees, whose identities have not been revealed, but are subject to prison terms and fines related to damages caused to the operator.

    Source : US Department of Justice

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