Muhammad Fahd, who is a citizen of Pakistan and Grenada, was sentenced to 12 years in a U.S. prison for his role in a seven-year scheme to unlock two million devices, allegedly defrauding AT&T of $200 million.
According to the Justice Department, Fahd conspired with other parties as early as 2012 to recruit carrier employees at the company’s Bothell, Washington call center to “unlock large numbers of cellular phones for profit.”
Fahd allegedly bribed staffers to use their AT&T credentials to unlock the devices of ineligible customers, later also encouraging them to install custom malware and hacking tools to gain access from his location in Pakistan. Fahd also reportedly recruited employees to set up fake businesses and bank accounts for those businesses, in order to receive payments and create invoices for each deposit made.
Furthermore, the Justice Department claims that Fahd – after encountering a new AT&T unlocking system that made his activity problematic – hired a software developer to design malware that can be installed without authorization on AT&T’s computer system, thus allowing him to “unlock phones more efficiently and in larger numbers.”
Fahd pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September 2020.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik of the Western District of Washington noted in his statement that he believes Fahd committed a “terrible cybercrime over an extended period,” noting that this activity continued even after Fahd became aware he was being investigated in the U.S..
AT&T forensic analysis reveals that more than 1.9 million devices were fraudulently unlocked, for $201+ million in damages.
Fahd was ordered to pay $200 million in restitution.