One man made millions of T-Mobile phones unlocked with stolen passwords

A jury has found Argishti Khudavardayan, a former owner of a T-Mobile store, guilty of using credentials stolen to unlock “hundreds of thousands of cellphones” from August 2014 to June 2019. PCMag) According to a Justice Department press release and an indictment filed earlier this year, Khudavardayan made about $25 million from the scheme, including excluding carrier blocks on lost or stolen cell phones.

Over the years, he reportedly used a variety of tricks to obtain the T-Mobile employee credentials needed to unlock the phone, including phishing, social engineering, and even calling the carrier’s IT department a high-level job. -Obtained to give him access, to reset his password. The DOJ says it used the credentials of more than 50 employees, and used them to unlock phones from “Sprint, AT&T and other carriers.”

According to the indictment, Khudavardayan was able to use T-Mobile’s unlocking tool on the open Internet until 2017. After the carrier moves them to its internal network, Khudavardayan will reportedly use the stolen credentials to access that network via Wi-Fi on T-Mobile. inventory.

The DOJ says Khudawardene co-owned a T-Mobile store called Top Tier Solutions Inc. for a few months in 2017, though the carrier terminated the store’s contract due to suspicious behavior. (The other co-owner, Alan Gharebaglu, was also accused of fraud and illegal access to computer systems and has pleaded guilty.) Over the years, the DOJ maintains that Khudavaradyan has accessed through email, brokers and various websites. marketed its unlocking services from, told customers. That they were official T-Mobile unlocks.

Khudavardayan’s indictment describes certain purchases that he and Gharebaglu made with money received from unlocking the phone; Properties in California, a $32,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch, and a Land Rover. Gharehabgalu and Khudavardayan are accused of leasing a Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG and a Ferrari 458 respectively. A Rolex Sky-Dweller was also confiscated from one of the properties.

Khudavardayan isn’t the only person who has been in trouble with the law for unlocking a device or going around manufacturer-imposed limits. Last year, a man named Muhammad Fahad was sentenced to 12 years in prison for unlocking nearly 2 million AT&T phones, and a man named Gary Bowser was recently jailed for his role at a company. was sent (and fined $10 million). Mods for Nintendo Switch.

In some ways, these types of offenses are sympathetic—it’s hard to feel bad for companies that run out of revenue that would have earned customers by restricting what they can do with their devices. I’m not going to shed tears because the DOJ says that Khudavardyan “enabled T-Mobile customers to stop using T-Mobile’s services, and thus T-Mobile, resulting from customers’ service contracts and equipment installment plans.” deprived of revenue.”

Of course, the fact that such unlocks are illegal means it’s hard to run the unlock scheme without getting your hands dirty. It’s not great to trick T-Mobile employees for their credentials, and neither is potentially unlocking phones for thieves who want to sell them on the black market. But it would be hard for people like Khudavardayan or Fahd to build lucrative and shady businesses that do this kind of work if the carriers made it too easy for customers to do it themselves.

Khudavardayan is facing at least two years in prison for identity theft and up to 165 years in prison for wire fraud, money laundering and cases related to computer access without authorization. The sentencing hearing is to be held on October 17.

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