AT&T employees took bribes to plant malware on the company's network
AT&T employees took bribes to unlock millions of smartphones, and to install malware and unauthorized hardware on the company's network, the Department of Justice said yesterday. These details come from a DOJ case opened against Muhammad Fahd, a 34-year-old man from Pakistan, and his co-conspirator, Ghulam Jiwani, believed to be deceased.
The bribery scheme lasted from at least April 2012 until September 2017. Initially, the two Pakistani men bribed AT&T employees to unlock expensive iPhones so they could be used outside AT&T's network. The two recruited AT&T employees by approaching them in private via telephone or Facebook messages. Employees who agreed, received lists of IMEI phone codes which they had to unlock for sums of money. Employees would then receive bribes in their bank accounts, in shell companies they created, or as cash, from the two Pakistani men. This initial stage of the scheme lasted for about a year, until April 2013, when several employees left or were fired by AT&T.
That's when Fahd changed tactics and bribed AT&T employees to install malware on AT&T's network at the Bothell call center. Between April and October 2013, this initial malware collected data on how AT&T infrastructure worked. In November 2014, as Fahd began having problems controlling this malware, the DOJ said he also bribed AT&T employees to install rogue wireless access points inside AT&T's Bothell call center. These devices helped Fahd with gaining access to AT&T internal apps and network, and continue the rogue phone unlocking scheme. Fahd was arrested in Hong Kong in February 2018, and extradited to the US on August 2, last week. He now faces a litany of charges that may send him behind bars for up to 20 years.