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AT&T malware scheme leader sentenced to 12 years in prison


The U.S. Justice Department has announced that Pakistani Muhammad Fahd has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading the seven-year AT&T phone-unlocking malware scheme that began in 2012, Threatpost reports.

AT&T employees at a call center in Bothell, Wash., had been bribed by Fahd and his now-deceased accomplice to provide their credentials in an effort to infiltrate mobile phones belonging to AT&T customers under contract. The call center employees were then asked to install malware and hacking tools enabling remote unlocking from Pakistan, court documents showed. Nearly 2 million mobile phones had been unlocked by Fahd, resulting in more than $200 million in lost subscription fees for AT&T.

"Unlocking a phone effectively removes it from AT&T's network, thereby allowing the account holder to avoid having to pay AT&T for service or to make any payments for purchase of the phone," said the Justice Department.

Fraudsters have been known to target in-store and call center employees in their schemes, with AT&T having been sued in 2018 after its employees had been found to take part in a SIM-swapping scheme.

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