He took the ‘locked’ smartphones, tied to T-Mobile’s offers, and then unlocked them so he could resell them on the black market. Now he faces life imprisonment.
He took the ‘locked’ smartphones , tied to T-Mobile ‘s offers , and then unlocked them so that he could also resell them to customers of other mobile operators. To do this he used a sophisticated scheme of deceptions and deceptions, pushing himself to use social engineering to obtain the unwitting complicity of T-Mobile employees.
The person responsible for this criminal operation – as many as 14 charges against him – is Argishti Khudaverdyan , the former owner of a phone shop affiliated with T-Mobile, the operator he has cheated and cheated for many years. Khudaverdyan allegedly illegally unlocked hundreds of thousands of smartphones, illegally earning over $ 25 million. Money that he would then have laundered in the (vain) attempt not to get caught.
What are locked smartphones
But to understand this story we need to take a step back. In Italy, the concept of ‘blocked smartphone’ has never particularly caught on, despite some attempts. Trivially because the vast majority of consumers prefer to buy smartphones from electronics stores or online.
In the US, things work a little differently: buying smartphones bundled with a telephone offer from operators is very common. Americans often pay tens of dollars a month to have a smartphone and a plan that offers internet traffic and minutes to call together. It also happens in Italy, but the difference is that in America smartphones taken in this way can only be used with a SIM sold by that specific operator. So if you buy an iPhone with T-Mobile , the smartphone cannot be used with a Verizon SIM and so on. In jargon we speak of Locked phones .
T-Mobile scam: Khudaverdyan risks spending the rest of his life in prison
Thanks to this solution, operators can sell smartphones at a hyper-affordable price – several hundred dollars less than their list price – because in doing so they can be sure that the customer will be tied to their offers for many years. Changing the tariff plan would mean turning your smartphone into an unusable tile.
Argishti Khudaverdyan was a little con artist. The man, in fact, unlocked smartphones not so much thanks to some hidden IT talent, but thanks to a series of articulated frauds against T-Mobile employees and managers.
Through some phishing emails – that is, posing as the operator’s IT department -, Khudaverdyan had managed to steal the login credentials of over 50 T-Mobile employees. On one occasion Khudaverdyan had managed to persuade the IT department of T-Mobile to reset all passwords of the company’s executives. Thanks to the credentials stolen in this way, the entrepreneur was able to easily unlock the phones of his customers, so that he could freely resell them on the black market .
The hearing is set for October 17. If Argishti Khudaverdyan were found guilty on all 14 counts, he would risk having to serve over 165 years in prison .