AT&T employees took bribes to put malware on network

AT&T employees took bribes to put malware on network”

The Department of Justice unveiled charges Tuesday against a Pakistani man who allegedly bribed AT&T employees to illegally unlock cellphones on the company's network. According to the indictment, "Muhammad Fahd sent the insiders multiple versions of the unlocking malware to test and flawless the malware on behalf of the conspiracy".

The alleged scheme started not later than April 2012 and lasted for about five years.

"We have been working closely with law enforcement since this scheme was uncovered to bring these criminals to justice and are pleased with these developments", an AT&T spokesperson tells Information Security Media Group.

Fahd was arrested in February 2018 in Hong Kong and extradited to the United States last Friday, federal authorities said in today's announcement.

Fahd has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of accessing a protected computer in furtherance of fraud, two counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, and four counts of violating the Travel Act. Fahd is facing a maximum of 20 years behind bars if found guilty.

Fahd allegedly partnered with businesses that offered cell phone unlocking services in exchange for a fee.

The Department of Justice says that Muhammad Fahd, who has been extradited to the U.S. from Hong Kong, paid one employee over $420,000 over five years to unlock the phones. On unlocking the phones, the proprietary locking software would get disabled and which would let the phone work on multiple carrier systems.

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AT&T believes the scheme had cost the company more than $5 million every year. The reason AT&T locked their phones was so customers would be forced to use their network even after their phone was paid off.

At first, Fahd and Jiwani allegedly paid out tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to AT&T employees. One insider collected over $428,000 in bribes during this time, prosecutors allege.

According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2017, Fahd recruited various AT&T employees to the conspiracy.

Fahd, who also went by the name Frank Zhang, operated under a company called Endless Trading FZE.

Fahd and Jiwani recruited the company's employees over the phone or through Facebook messages and once they agreed, they received lists of IMEI phone codes which they had to unlock to receive payment as cash or deposited in their bank accounts. Now the crooks made a decision to convince the AT&T employees to take the money and let them install a piece of malware on AT&T's network.

The Justice Department notes that three unnamed AT&T employees have pleaded guilty to various charges, including taking bribes to help unlock these smartphones.

U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington said, "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".

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