The former owner of a T-Mobile store has been found guilty of a multimillion-dollar scheme to illegally unlock and unblock mobile devices.
Argishti Khudaverdyan, 44, from Burbank, was found guilty of 14 federal charges including wire fraud, money laundering, intentionally accessing a computer without authorisation to obtain information, access a computer to defraud and obtain value, and aggravate identity theft.
From August 2014 to June 2019, Khudaverdyan fraudulently unlocked and unblocked devices on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint networks. This enabled phones to be sold on the black market, according to the Department of Justice.
Khudaverdyan also ran Top Tier Solutions, a T-Mobile store based in Eagle Rock, from January to June 2017. He continued with the fraud scheme after his contract was terminated due to suspicious behaviour.
It was enabled by phishing for T-Mobile employee log-ins or socially engineering the firm’s IT help desk to gain access to T-Mobile’s internal computer systems.
He’s also said to have worked with individuals in overseas call centres to obtain employee credentials which he then used to access systems and harvest information on more senior staff. This information could be used with the help desk to reset passwords and provide privileged access.
The accounts of over 50 different T-Mobile USA employees were compromised by Khudaverdya and his co-conspirators. The group made $25m in the process.
The unlocking services were advertised as ‘legitimate’ T-Mobile unlocks via brokers, websites such as “unlocks247.com”, and email advertising.
Mobile devices are “locked” to a particular network until a contract is completed. Others are blocked if they are stolen or lost.