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United States federal government has charged a Pakistani national for bribing employees at AT&T telecommunication company over a period of five years to help unlock more than 2 million phones and plant malware on the company’s network.

Muhammad Fahd, a 34-year-old man from Pakistan, was arrested in Hong Kong last year in February at the request of the U.S. government and just extradited to the U.S. on Friday, August 2, 2019.

According to an indictment unsealed Monday, Fahd recruited and paid AT&T insiders working at a call center in Bothell, Washington, more than $1 million in bribes between 2012 and 2017 to help them unlock cell phones associated with specified IMEI numbers that otherwise were not eligible to be removed from AT&T’s network.

Some telecommunication companies, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, sell flagship phones at discounted prices, but it comes with locked SIMs that prevent users from switching their network service for any other telecommunication service.

With his partners in crime at AT&T, Fahd and his co-conspirator Ghulam Jiwani, who is now deceased, ran a successful business where he charged millions of users in return to unlock their devices, enabling them to use a SIM card of any other carrier, domestically or internationally.

Fahd also paid AT&T employees bribes for installing malware on the company’s internal computers at the Bothell call center which allowed Fahd to gather confidential and proprietary information on how AT&T’s computer network and software applications function.

Apparently using that malware and credentials of his co-conspirator at AT&T, Fahd was able to automatically process unauthorized unlock requests for any cell phone from a remote location.

images from Hacker News