LOS ANGELES — The former owner of a T-Mobile retail store in Eagle Rock has been found guilty by a jury of 14 federal criminal charges in connection with his $25 million to illegally “unlock” and “unblock” cellphones, the Justice Department announced today.
Argishti Khudaverdyan, 44, of Burbank was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, two counts of accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, and one count of knowingly accessing a computer without permission to obtain . information, one count of conspiracy to launder money, five counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.
A jury returned a guilty verdict Friday night in United States District Court.
According to evidence presented during the four-day trial, Khudaverdyan ran a multi-year scheme to illegally unlock and unlock cellphones, netting him about $25 million. USD of criminal proceeds. During this time, most cell phone companies, including T-Mobile, “locked” their customers’ phones so that they could only be used on the company’s network until the customers’ phone and service contracts were fulfilled. If customers wanted to switch to another operator, their phones had to be “unlocked”. Carriers have also “locked” cell phones to protect users in the event of lost or stolen cell phones.
Since 2014 August. until 2019 in June Khudaverdyan fraudulently unlocked and unlocked cell phones on the T-Mobile network, as well as the networks of Sprint, AT&T and other carriers. Unlocking phones could have been sold on the black market, and T-Mobile customers could have stopped using T-Mobile services, depriving T-Mobile of revenue from customer service contracts and equipment installment plans.
Khudaverdyan promoted his fraudulent unlocking services through brokers, email by mail and websites like unlocks247.com. He falsely claimed that the fraudulent unlocks he provided were “official” T-Mobile unlocks.
Since 2017 month of January. until 2017 in June Khudaverdyan and a former business partner also co-owned Top Tier Solutions Inc., the T-Mobile store in Eagle Rock Plaza. However, after the 2017 After T-Mobile terminated Khudaverdyan’s contract in June due to suspicious computer behavior and ties to illegal cell phone unlocking, Khudaverdyan continued his fraud.
In order to gain unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s protected internal computers, Khudaverdyan obtained the credentials of T-Mobile employees through various fraudulent means, including phishing emails. sending emails that looked like legitimate correspondence from T-Mobile and social engineering T-Mobile’s IT help desk. Khudaverdyan in fraudulent e-mails. emails tricked T-Mobile employees into logging in with their employee credentials in order to collect employee information and fraudulently unlock phones.
While working with other overseas call centers, Khudaverdyan also obtained T-Mobile employee credentials, which he later used to access T-Mobile systems to target higher-level employees, collect those employees’ personally identifiable information, and call T-Mobile ” to the IT help desk. reset employees’ company passwords, giving him unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s systems that allowed him to unlock and unlock cellphones.
Khudaverdyan and others compromised and stole more than 50 different T-Mobile employee credentials from employees across the United States, unlocking and unlocking hundreds of thousands of cell phones over the course of a year in the scheme.
Khudaverdyan received more than 25 million for this criminal activity. He used these illegal proceeds to pay for properties in Burbank and Northridge, among other things.
United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson set a sentencing hearing for Oct. 17, at which time Khudaverdyan faces the statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud, 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 10 years in federal prison for each count of money laundering. count, five years in federal prison for each count of knowingly accessing a computer without permission to obtain information, five years in federal prison for accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, and a mandatory two years. served a year in federal prison for aggravated identity theft.
Allen Gharehbagloo, 43, of La Cañada Flintridge, co-defendant and former co-owner of Top Tier Solutions Inc., July 5. pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access to a protected computer with intent to defraud. , and conspiracy to commit money laundering. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 5.
The matter was investigated by the US Secret Service’s Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF) in Los Angeles and the Cyber Crimes Division of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Western Region. The CFTF includes representatives from the United States Secret Service, the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa E. Feldman and Andrew M. Roach of the Electronic and Intellectual Property Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Galatzan, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Section, is handling the asset forfeiture portion of this case.