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Press Release

Two California Men Charged With Gift Card Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
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BOSTON – In an indictment unsealed late yesterday, two California men have been charged with remotely hacking into the computerized cash registers of a number of Subway restaurants in order to fraudulently obtain gift cards.

On March 6, 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 statutory maximum penalty is 20 years in prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release. Abdollahi is scheduled to have his initial appearance on March 27 at 3:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman; and Resident Agent in Charge Holly Fraumeni, of the United States Secret Service in Manchester, N.H., made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam J. Bookbinder and Mona Sedky, a trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated December 15, 2014