The Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Aug. 6 that it has extradited Muhammad Fahd, who allegedly bribed AT&T workers to plant malware and illegally unlock cell phones.

“This arrest illustrates what can be achieved when the victim of a cyberattack partners quickly and closely with law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of DoJ’s Criminal Division.  “When companies that fall prey to malware work with the Department of Justice, no cybercriminal – no matter how sophisticated their scheme – is beyond our reach.”

The 34-year-old Pakistani citizen, facing 14 Federal charges, was arrested on Feb. 4, 2018 in Hong Kong at DoJ’s request and was extradited from Hong Kong on Aug. 2, 2019. In an indictment filed in March of 2018, Fahd is charged with recruiting and paying AT&T insiders to “use their computer credentials and access to disable AT&T’s proprietary locking software that prevented ineligible phones from being removed from AT&T’s network.”

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington. “Now he will be held accountable for the fraud and the lives he has derailed.”

According to DoJ, this resulted in millions of phones being removed from AT&T service and/or payment plans, which cost the company millions of dollars. Fahd paid the bribed workers tens of thousands of collars, including paying one coconspirator $428,500 over the five-year scheme. Three of his co-conspirators have already pled guilty.

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.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.