Mall Phone Kiosk Employees Charged with Trafficking Stolen Apple Products
Three Men Caught in Undercover Operation to Thwart Thefts on Metro
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Three men working at local shopping mall cell phone kiosks have been indicted for purchasing stolen iPhones and other products and selling them for profit. The charges are a result of an ongoing investigation into the theft of a large number of Apple, Inc., products from riders on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Beth Arthur, Arlington County Sheriff; M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Chief of Police; Michael Taborn, Metro Transit Chief of Police; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the men were arraigned in federal court this morning.
“Trafficking stolen goods is a serious crime, especially when the thievery instills fear on the thousands who commute on Metro each day,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride.
“The Metro Transit Police Department has been focused on reducing snatch-and-grab robberies of personal electronic devices,” said MTPD Chief Taborn. “The indictments in this case are the result of many months of excellent police work by Transit detectives working side-by-side with our law enforcement partners.”
“New technology is both attractive and enticing to old fashioned thieves who engage in criminal actions to acquire that technology,” said FBI ADIC McJunkin. “Like so many other occasions, the FBI has partnered effectively with Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff's Office, and Metro Transit Police Departments, to effect the arrests of these individuals in an attempt to stop the criminal activity.”
According to court records, the Metro Transit Police Department arrested an individual following a robbery on the Metro Green Line on Jan. 14, 2010, and the defendant indicated that employees working at a phone kiosk in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City were willing to pay cash for stolen Apple, Inc., products. In an effort to corroborate the information, undercover officers from the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff's Office approached at least two cell phone kiosks at Fashion Centre on March 5, 2010.
The undercover officers allegedly brokered sales of stolen iPhones and Macbooks with two brothers: Farid Ahmad, a/k/a “Fred,” 33, and Naeem Ahmad, 31, both of Woodbridge, Va. The brothers first worked at a PCC Wireless kiosk at Fashion Centre and later worked at kiosks in the Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge, Va., and at other locations in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania. A series of transactions allegedly culminated in a May 25, 2011, sale of 27 iPhones and 14 Macbooks for $6,400. The brothers were arrested when the items were allegedly placed in the trunk of their car.
On July 28, 2011, Farid and Naeem Ahmad were charged in a three-count indictment accused of conspiracy, the purchase, receipt and possession of electronics stolen from an interstate carrier, and receipt of stolen goods. The maximum penalties for the two substantive offenses involving the purchase, receipt, and possession of the stolen electronics are 10 years each. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Both men are scheduled for a jury trial on Nov. 16, 2011.
In a separate two-count indictment also returned on July 28, 2011, Ahmer Aslam, a/k/a “Don,” 27, of Dumfries, Va., was charged with the purchase, receipt and possession of electronics stolen from an interstate carrier, and receipt of stolen goods. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each count of the indictment. He is scheduled for a jury trial on Oct. 19, 2011.
Aslam was a sales clerk at the Cellaris cell phone accessories kiosk at Fashion Centre and allegedly brokered sales of stolen Apple, Inc., products in a series of transactions with undercover officers after he was first tapproached in an undercover operation on March 5, 2011. He was arrested after allegedly paying $16,000 in exchange for 28 iPhones and 14 Macbook computers.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.