First published in the Aug. 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
A Burbank man who once co-owned a T-Mobile retail store in Eagle Rock faces sentencing in October for running a $25-million scheme to use stolen T-Mobile employee credentials to illegally infiltrate the mobile phone company’s internal computer systems and unlock its cell phones.
Argishti Khudaverdyan, 44, of Burbank, was found guilty Friday, July 29, of multiple felonies, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain information, money laundering and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment, filed in Los Angeles federal court, seeks the forfeiture of more than $2.25 million seized from several bank accounts and residential properties purchased illegally.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson scheduled an Oct. 17 sentencing hearing, at which time Khudaverdyan may face more than 75 years in federal prison.
A co-defendant, Alen Gharehbagloo, 43, of La Cañada Flintridge, pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.
The pair falsely told customers that T-Mobile granted them the authority to unlock the company’s devices so they could be used on any carrier’s network.
In fact, T-Mobile and the other major carriers sell devices that only work on their own networks until the customers’ phone purchase and service contracts have been fulfilled.
Khudaverdyan and Gharehbagloo advertised their unlocking services online and by email solicitations and referrals. They would also reactivate cell phones that were reported lost or stolen, according to testimony during the four-day trial.
Between August 2014 and January 2019, the defendants advertised their unlocking services through brokers, email solicitations and websites.
Evidence showed that, in order to gain unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s protected internal computers, Khudaverdyan obtained company employees’ credentials through phishing emails that appeared to be legitimate T-Mobile correspondence.
From January to June 2017, Khudaverdyan and Gharehbagloo co-owned a T-Mobile franchise store in the Eagle Rock Plaza.
Investigators determined that Khudaverdyan and Gharehbagloo used money they received through the scheme to pay for, among other things, properties in Burbank, Northridge and La Cañada Flintridge, according to the indictment.
— City News Service