A US Pakistani Man Was Sentenced for Conducting a $200 Million Mobile Fraud
A Pakistani man was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the US court. This crime was that he illegally unlocked mobile phones, which resulted in the American company AT&T losing $200 million! The US Attorney’s office in Seattle claimed that Mohammad Fahd, who was 35 years of age from Karachi, had a huge leadership role in a 7-year scheme that involved unlocking phones unlawfully and defrauding AT&T.
He Had Unlocked More Than 1,900,033 Phones
The forensic analysis of AT&T states in its official statement that Fahd, along with his co-conspirator, had unlocked around 1,900,033 phones! This resulted in the company losing $201,497,430.94 over the course of 7 years! At the hearing, US District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said that Fahd had committed a horrible cybercrime over such a long time period. He continued doing so even after he was well aware of the fact that law enforcement was actually monitoring him. Fahd started the scam in the year 2012 and conspired with others as well to recruit AT&T employees at a call center that was located in Bothell, Washington, in order to unlock a really huge amount of phones for a profit.
Fahd also recruited as well as bribed many AT&T employees in order to use their company credentials to unlock phones for customers who were ineligible. Later on, Fahd started bribing employees in order to install custom malware as well as different hacking tools that helped him in unlocking phones remotely from Pakistan! The crime went on for a really long period of time, and in September 2020, Fahd finally pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud. The US Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said that Fahd is a modern-day cybercriminal who made use of his technological skills with old-school techniques that include bribery, exploitation, as well as intimidation in order to run a big criminal organization that resulted in the loss of $200 million. She added that the damage done as a result of his crime was not just financial, but he pressured many young individuals into becoming a part of his crime, and he also spread the damage done as a result of his greedy scheme to others.
Cellular phones do cost a lot of dollars; however American companies actually subsidize the buying cost if the customers purchase their service too. Moreover, companies also offer phones to their customers under different installment plans. When a phone is unlocked, it is removed from a network, which means that the account holder can now get a much cheaper service provider without actually paying the installments as well as any other charges that were a part of the contract signed.
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Fahd Contacted An AT&T Employee on Facebook Using A Fake Name
The statement released by the Seattle attorney’s office between the time period of June and July 2021 states that Fahd contacted an AT&T employee on Facebook using a fake name, Frank Zhang. He offered the employee a huge amount of money if he would help him in unlocking phones at AT&T. Fahd even asked the employee to hire other AT&T employees who were willing to help with the same matter in return for profits.
The Attorney’s office added that Fahd was actually in need of more AT&T employees in order to join the scam since he was looking for someone who would be available at all times and would also help him expand his ability to unlock phones. Fahd had also instructed the hired employees to set up a fake business along with a bank account in order to receive payments from him. He convinced them to make fake invoices for each and every deposit that was made into the fake business’s bank account to make it seem like the money taken was from a real service provided.
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Fahd Played Smart and Hired A Software Developer To Design A Malware
In the year 2013, AT&T set up a new unlocking system that made it really hard for the employees that were hired to unlock phones for Fahd. This is when Fahd played smart and hired a software developer to design a malware that could easily be installed without any authorization needed on AT&T’s computer system to unlock phones easily and in a huge number! This was when the employees gave Fahd confidential information about AT&T’s computer system as well as the unlocking procedure to help him with the entire process.
Fahd then made sure the employees installed the malware on AT&T’s computers that captured the entire information regarding AT&T’s computer system as well as stealing the network access credentials of other employees of the company.
Fahd gave this information to his malware developer, who then designed it in a way that it would work on AT&T’s computers. When he was caught, Judge Lasnik ordered restitution of the amount of $200,620,698. Now the difference between this amount and the complete loss revolves around the restitution ordered against the AT&T employees that were bribed in this entire scheme. In the year 2017, Fahd was indicted, and in 2018, he was arrested in Hong Kong. He was handed over to the US District Court in Seattle in August 2019. This was when he pleaded guilty to committing this wire fraud in September 2020.
His Obsession with Money Got The Best of Him…
Fahd also apologized to the US District Judge Rober Lasnik through a letter. However, he did not really go that far as to help the US government in recovering the ill-gotten assets, as noted by the prosecutors. They added, saying that according to the limited records they were lucky to find, Fahd made at least $5.3 from this Fraud. Fahd claims that he got obsessed with money, and he had no thoughts that he was doing something wrong. He said he wasn’t aware, but he was on a path to self-destruction, and the worst part was that his plan destroyed the lives of many people around him.
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