Eight People Charged in $22 Million Stolen Handset Fraud
Published on: 20th Aug 2009
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
Eight people have been charged in a fraud where they obtained over USD22 million worth of wireless devices from AT&T and T Mobile without payment.
As part of the scheme, Gabe Beizem, 34, an owner of Got Wireless, also known as USA Wireless, a former authorized AT&T and T-Mobile dealer that operated in Brooklyn, obtained dealer access codes for AT&T's and T-Mobile's online customer databases. Rohan Stewart, 34, the owner of KP Wireless, an authorized T-Mobile wireless device dealer operating in West Palm Beach, Florida, also obtained dealer access codes for T-Mobile's customer database.
Using these access codes, Beizem, Stewart, and Marsha Montayne, 28, and others, fraudulently obtained existing customer information from the customer databases, including customers' names, addresses, and personal identifying information.
Montayne, and others, then assumed the identities of existing customers and obtained new wireless devices without payment and without the customers' permission. The stolen phones were then shipped to by FedEx and DHL to the genuine customer, but the shipments were intercepted by bribing the delivery staff.
Beckford, Beizem, Davis, and Montayne, and others, allegedly then sold the fraudulently obtained wireless devices to others. When charges were incurred on these devices they were billed to existing AT&T and T-Mobile customers' accounts. When the customers reported or confirmed the fraud on their accounts to AT&T and T-Mobile, the companies absorbed the losses, which included the cost of the devices, insurance payments, shipping costs, and wireless service and other calling charges.
"Identity theft can ruin customers' credit and seriously disrupt their lives," stated United States Attorney Campbell. "The type of fraud alleged in the indictment strikes at the very heart of our modern digital economy and imposes substantial costs on commercial businesses. It is a serious problem that requires serious action. Those who commit identity theft can expect to be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Mr. Campbell thanked the New York State Police for their assistance.
Secret Service Special Agent-in-Charge Parr stated, "The results of this investigation are an example of the strategic partnerships between the Secret Service, the New York State Police, and our private sector partners. We continue to prioritize investigative cases, focusing on electronic and financial crimes which have a significant impact on the community, and deploy cutting edge technology to pre-empt criminal ingenuity."
If convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, the defendants each face maximum sentences of 20 years of imprisonment.