Two California men have been charged in an indictment unsealed today in Boston with remotely hacking into merchants’ computerized cash registers in order to obtain fraudulent gift cards, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz for the District of Massachusetts and Resident Agent in Charge Holly Fraumeni of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Manchester, N.H. Office
Shahin Abdollahi, aka “Sean Holdt,” 46, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., and Jeffrey Thomas Wilkinson, 35, of Rialto, Calif., were both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud.
According to the indictment, Abdollahi owned Subway franchises in Southern California from 2005 to 2008, and later operated a California company called “POS Doctor,” which sold and installed point-of-sale (POS) computer systems to Subway restaurant franchises around the country. POS systems are a type of computerized checkout register that allows merchants to manage customer purchases made by credit, debit and gift cards.
The indictment alleges that beginning in approximately 2011, Abdollahi and Wilkinson conspired to remotely hack into POS systems in Subway restaurant franchises around the country. According to the indictment, members of the conspiracy hacked into at least 13 Subway POS systems that Abdollahi sold through POS Doctor and fraudulently added at least $40,000 in value to Subway gift cards. Abdollahi and Wilkinson allegedly used the fraudulent gift cards to make purchases at Subway, and Wilkinson also allegedly sold fraudulent gift cards to others using eBay and Craigslist.
The case was investigated by the USSS and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam J. Bookbinder of the District of Massachusetts.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.