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Monday, October 18, 2021

US court gives 12-years to Pakistani Man for unlocking 2 million phones in 7 years causing AT&T $200 million

SEATTLE – A United States district court has handed a 12-year sentence to a Pakistani national for unlocking the mobile phones of AT&T, a Texas-based telecom giant which suffered losses to the tune of $200 million.

According to a press release issued by the US Department of Justice, 35-year-old Mohammad Fahd, who hailed from Karachi, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a conspiracy to ‘unlock’ smartphones from AT&T’s network. The culprit led a seven-year scheme to illegally unlock around 2 million mobile phones of AT&T depriving the firm of hundreds of millions.

Judge Robert Lasnik of the US District Court ruled that Fahd committed a ‘terrible’ cybercrime over an extended period despite being aware that law enforcement authorities were keeping an eye on him. The court directed him to return $200.6 million to the telecom firm.

The court termed the Pakistani man as a modern-day cybercriminal who used tech expertise with a criminal attitude to run an organization causing huge losses.

It all started back in 2012; Fahd approached an employee of the tech firm via social media platform with the alias ‘Frank Zhang’. The criminal-minded man lured him with huge sums of amount if he would help him unlock the phones of the firm. As soon as he joined him, the duo continued the work for some time before recruiting AT&T employees at a call center in the US capital.

He tricked them with hands full of cash to share their credentials to enable him to unlock mobile phones. Following that, the culprit started the international operations and installed customized malware to unlock phones remotely from his native country Pakistan.

US companies actually offer mobile phones at subsidized rates along with easy installments if the customers like to buy their cellular services however, if the customer can be able to unlock the mobile phone it will remove it from the company’s network.

Customers can then subscribe to cheaper services without paying the remaining installments or any kind of charge.

The scammer also asked the tech company workers to set up phony businesses and connect their bank accounts to receive payments from the dirty business. The racket used to make forged invoices against every deposit made into their accounts connected with their fake businesses to make it genuine.

In the year 2013, the company advanced the new unlocking system to make it more difficult to illegally unlock mobile phones. The criminal-minded smarty then took the help of hackers to design malware to hack company authorization to unlock tranche of phones more efficiently.

The bribed workers helped him installing malware on AT&T’s systems that all information about the computer system and the network access credentials. Fahd was charged for leading a multi-million fraud house that deprived the telecom giant a big chunk of their income in 2017 and was later apprehended in Hong Kong in 2018. He was extradited to US Court in 2019 and was pleaded guilty to the mega cybercrime last year. Two of the workers of the tech firm were also sentenced to probation for being a part of the scam.

Meanwhile, the man, in an apology letter, confessed being obsessed with earning money via illegal ways “I did not know it, but I was on a path to self-destruction. Worse yet my misconduct destroyed the lives of those around me”, he wrote in the letter.

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