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, of Burbank, was found guilty of 14 federal charges including wire fraud, accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain information, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
From August 2014 to June 2019, Khudaverdyan fraudulently unlocked and unblocked devices on the T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T networks. This enabled the phones to be sold on the black market and for users to stop using T-Mobile services, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
From January to June 2017, Khudaverdyan also ran Top Tier Solutions, a T-Mobile store based in Eagle Rock. After his contract was terminated due to suspicious behavior, he continued with the fraud scheme.
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.
On other occasions, he’s said to have worked with individuals in overseas call centers to obtain employee credentials which he then used to access systems and harvest information on higher-level staff. This info could be used with the help desk to reset passwords and provide privileged access, the DoJ said.
Khudaverdya and his co-conspirators compromised the accounts of 50 different T-Mobile USA employees in this way, and unlocked and unblocked hundreds of thousands of phones, making $25m in the process.
The unlocking services were advertised as ‘legitimate’ T-Mobile unlocks via brokers, email advertising and websites such as “unlocks247.com.”
Mobile devices are “locked” to a particular network until a contract is fulfilled, while others are blocked if they have been lost or stolen.