Fahd Muhammad, a 34-year-old from Pakistan has been extradited from Hong Kong to the U.S., over allegations he bribed AT&T employees over five years to unlock more than 2 million phones using backdoor deals.
Muhammad Fahd and his co-conspirator the late Ghulam Jiwani are now facing charges before a US court after they paid 42million to individual AT&T staff at a call center in Boswell, Washington, who later unlocked phones tied to the AT&T network.
According to U.S. prosecutors, Fahd was helping people who were paying to unlock and escape AT&T. For instance, where cellphone cost has been reduced, AT&T requires customers to remain on its network. Fahd would simply get a phone’s IMEI number from a willing buyer and then ask the AT&T insiders to unlock their device.
America’s Department of Justice said that Fahd also asked employees to install malware on AT&T computers so that he could study how its internal processes worked. That is how Fahd got direct access to AT&T computers.
He then created malware that used AT&T employees passwords to get access to different computers so that he could do the unlocking remotely when he feels like, rather wants.
Even though AT&T investigators uncovered the unlocking malware in 2013 and the responsible insider, who was paid $1Million had already died but he had already recruited others according to the DOJ.
Fahd also paid AT&T employees to install snooping hardware, malicious routers and rogue Wi-Fi access points in the building that again allowed for further access to supposedly protected computers.
Fahd was using a number of front companies as he approached AT&T employees in Boswell. He’d call or Facebook message them and when he’d convinced them to become part of the scheme, he’d tell them to open their own shell businesses so they could receive payment, according to the charges.
“This defendant thought he could safely run his bribery and hacking scheme from overseas, making millions of dollars while he induced young workers to choose greed over ethical conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.
Brian has emphasized that Fahd must be held accountable for the fraud and the lives he has derailed.
Jiwani, who the DOJ said is now deceased, was said to have been responsible for gathering the IMEI numbers and paying the bribes. He also travelled to the U.S. and Dubai to make bribe payments.
Fahd was arrested in Hong Kong on February 4, 2018, but only extradited to the U.S. on August 2, 2019. He faces up to 20 years in jail. Three co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty to accepting thousands of dollars to assist in the scheme.
The conspiracy lasted from 2012 to 2017 but more could be uncovered, as the Secret Service continues to investigate.