June 3, 2023

A Los Angeles jury has found a former owner of a T-Mobile retail store guilty of using stolen credentials to unlock “hundreds of thousands of cellphones” between 2014 and 2019.

Argishti Khudaverdyan, 44, made about $25 million from the scheme that involved stealing T-Mobile employee credentials and illegally accessing the company’s internal computer systems to illegally “unlock” and “unlock” cell phones, the Justice Department said. USA (DoJ). statement on Monday.

Between August 2014 and June 2019, he was found to have fraudulently accessed more than 50 employee credentials, using them to unlock phones from “Sprint, AT&T and other carriers.”

During this time, carriers like T-Mobile “locked” their customers’ phones so they could only be used on the company’s network until the customers’ phone and service contracts were fulfilled.

Phones had to be “unlocked” to switch to a different carrier, while carriers also “blocked” cell phones to protect consumers in the event of lost or stolen cell phones.

“Unlocking allowed the phones to be sold on the black market and allowed T-Mobile customers to stop using T-Mobile services and thus deprive T-Mobile of revenue from customer service contracts and installment plans equipment,” the DoJ said. .

The 44-year-old obtained employee credentials through dishonest means, including sending phishing emails that appeared to be legitimate T-Mobile mail and tricking people in the T-Mobile IT Support Desk, according to the indictment.

Khudaverdyan also obtained credentials as a T‑Mobile employee, working with others in overseas call centers.

He then used that information to gain access to T-Mobile’s systems to target higher-level employees by gathering their personally identifiable information.

With that data, he called the T-Mobile IT Help Desk to reset employees’ company passwords, giving him unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s systems that allowed him to unlock and unlock cellphones.

“In all, Khudaverdyan and others breached and stole more than 50 different T-Mobile employee credentials from employees across the United States and unlocked and unlocked hundreds of thousands of cellphones over the years of the scheme,” according to the DoJ.

“Khudaverdyan obtained more than $25 million for these criminal activities. He used these ill-gotten gains to pay for, among other things, properties in Burbank and Northridge,” the statement said.

The Justice Department said it made its unlock services available through email, brokers and websites, telling customers that the fraudulent unlocks it provided were “official” T-Mobile unlocks.

Khudaverdyan could be sentenced to at least two years in prison for “aggravated identity theft” and up to 165 years on charges related to wire fraud, money laundering and unauthorized computer access.

His sentencing is scheduled for October 17.

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