T-Mobile: Ex-employee steals gadgets — and makes $25 million

Accused
T-Mobile: Ex-employee secretly steals gadgets and makes $25 million with it

In the US – there’s a branch here in New York – T-Mobile is more popular with younger customers

© John Marshall Mantell / / Picture Alliance

In Germany, smartphone simlocks are a dark memory. However, in the US, many providers still lock their customers into their own network. He made an unscrupulous T-Mobile employee rich. Now he is facing prison.

The big question was when you inherited a used cell phone from family or bought it from platforms like Ebay: does it even work in my network? While German providers have long dispensed with restrictions on individual networks or even SIM cards, in the US this problem has been around for much longer. It seems that an employee of the American company T-Mobile has made millions with it.

This stems from a ruling by the US Department of Justice. Argishti K. was found guilty of offering to remove the provider ban as a service. And on a massive scale: He is said to have unlocked “hundreds of thousands of cell phones” between 2014 and 2019. The 44-year-old’s fate is now that he was not allowed to do so. And they stole the tools to do so, too.

Not just a little illegal

K. gained access to unlock devices using classic hacking methods: Using fake emails, he got help desk employees from T-Mobile and other service providers to reset their password on a website he controlled – thus gaining access to their accounts. In some cases, he is said to have succeeded in posing as a high-ranking employee on the hotlines in order to gain access. In total, he is said to have hijacked more than 50 support accounts in this way.

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found K. And his temporary partner, who also apparently condemned his customers through email advertisements and third-party intermediaries, many customers thought was an official offer from the company. But that doesn’t seem enough for the duo in the long run: In 2017, the two had been running a store for T-Mobile for a few months, but they also offered their “service” there without any approval from the company. But it was noticed at some point: due to “suspicious use of the computer”, the company withdrew the license from the shop after a short time. After that, they continued as before.

The court argued that this harmed the company in several ways. On the other hand, there was no fee to activate the devices, and with the change before the contract expired, income was also lost through the use of their contract. In addition, K. is said to have unlocked devices that were reported to be lost or stolen and thus banned. This allowed it to be sold on the black market. It was all very profitable for K: He is said to have earned more than $25 million over five years, including the purchase of land, expensive cars and other luxury goods, according to a “Fortune” report.



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Threatening a long prison sentence

Hard times are likely to come to K. now. Because he was convicted of 14 counts, including fraud and money laundering, he faces a lengthy prison sentence. According to the “Fortune” website, he faces at least two years in prison for identity theft alone, and in extreme cases another 165 years can be added to the other charges. The verdict is expected to be announced in October.

Sources: Judgment, Fortune

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