Two men who owned a T-Mobile retail store in Eagle Rock face federal charges after allegedly using stolen employee credentials to infiltrate the company’s internal computer systems to unlock cellphones so they could be used on any network.
The scheme earned the men more than $25 million, according to a grand jury indictment.
Argishti Khudaverdyan, 41, of Burbank, and Alen Gharehbagloo, 40, of La Cañada Flintridge, face multiple felonies, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud and money laundering.
The indictment also calls for the forfeiture of more than $2.25 million from several bank accounts and residential properties allegedly purchased with funds from the scheme.
Khudaverdyan and Gharehbagloo co-owned Top Tier Solutions, Inc.a T-Mobile premium retail store in the Eagle Rock Plaza during the first six months of 2017.
According to the indictment, the men conspired to fraudulently unlock T-Mobile phones, allowing T-Mobile customers to stop using T-Mobile’s services and therefore “deprive T-Mobile of revenue generated from customers’ service contracts and equipment installment plans.” The defendants allegedly conspired to “whitelist” or “clean” phones that had been reported lost or stolen so they could be activated again, according to the indictment.
Between August 2014 and January 2019, Khudaverdyan and Gharehbagloo allegedly advertised their services through brokers, email solicitations and websites such as “unlocks247.com.” They also allegedly claimed to provide “official” T-Mobile unlocks.
In order to gain unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s protected internal computers, Khudaverdyan allegedly obtained T-Mobile employees’ credentials through phishing emails that appeared to be legitimate. Khudaverdyan then allegedly used the emails to deceive T-Mobile employees to log in with their employee credentials so Khudaverdyan could take the employees’ information and unlock the phones, according to the indictment.
The two, along with a co-conspirator, allegedly used the Wi-Fi access points inside T-Mobile stores to log onto the company’s internal network using the compromised employee credentials, according to the inducement.
The allegedly men used the proceeds from the scheme to pay for properties in Burbank, Northridge and La Cañada Flintridge.
The men are expected to be arraigned in federal court on Monday.
Khudaverdyan faces a maximum of 237 years in federal prison if convicted of the 17 charges. Gharehbagloo would face a statutory maximum of 235 years in federal prison if convicted of the 15 counts against him, officials said.
The scheme was investigated by United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation’s Western Area Cyber Crime Unit.