SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – A Pakistani man has been charged for paying over one million dollars in bribes to several employees of the mobile carrier AT&T to unlock millions of phones tied to the company’s network.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that he bribed workers at AT&T’s Bothell Customer Service Center in Washington to plant malware and illegally unlock cell phones.
According to the DOJ, Muhammad Fahd reportedly had workers insert malware and “otherwise misuse” AT&T’s networks between 2012 and 2017, paying one insider $428,500 over a five-year period and even having some bribes delivered in person, the Engadget reported Aug. 7.
Fahd would simply provide AT&T insiders with phone International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers and that they would use the firm’s internal systems to unlock the phones.
The Pakistani man, who was arrested in Hong Kong in February 2018, was only extradited to the U.S. Aug. 2, 2019.
“Fahd is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of accessing a protected computer in furtherance of fraud, two counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, and four counts of violating the Travel Act,” the DOJ statement added.
Fahd also recruited various AT&T employees to the conspiracy and some early recruits were paid to identify other employees who could be bribed and convinced to join the scheme.
So far, three co-conspirators have pleaded guilty, and admitted they were paid thousands of dollars for facilitating the fraudulent scheme.