Two Men Sentenced To Prison for Multi-State Scheme to Obtain New Cell Phones through Fraud
BOSTON – Two men were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain and re-sell more than $330,000 in new cell phones.
David Hul, 34 of North Arlington, NJ, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf to 21 months in prison. Judge Wolf also sentenced Curtis Peebles, 26 of Boston and New York, NY to 18 months in prison. In February 2016, they pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy. Co-defendants Jimmy Phan and Lee Tran previously pleaded guilty. Tran is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 12, 2016, and Phen’s hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Hul, Peebles and their co-conspirators gained access to T-Mobile customer records, including customer names, phone numbers, and information regarding those customers’ eligibility for free phone upgrades.
From at least January 2014 through October 17, 2014, Phan, Hul, Peebles, and other co-conspirators called T-Mobile customer service centers and, impersonating T-Mobile employees, used dealer codes that enabled them to add any name as an authorized user on T-Mobile accounts. They then recruited “runners”, including Tran and others, to go into T-Mobile stores and impersonate the customers. Phan, Hul, and Peebles used the dealer codes, among other methods, to cause either the runners’ real names or false identities to be added the customer accounts, sometimes using false names that closely matched the runners’ real names to reduce the likelihood of T-Mobile detecting the fraud.
Runners then went to T-Mobile stores in Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida, and elsewhere, presented identification in the real or assumed names, and acquired one or more new cell phones on accounts that were eligible for upgrades. Runners then returned the new phones to Phan, Hul, Peebles, and others, who paid them a portion of the phone’s value. Although T-Mobile regularly alerted its customers to changes to their accounts, the affected customers frequently did not learn of the fraudulent modifications in time to prevent the distribution of the phones.
Phan, Hul, and others re-sold the cell phones to other coconspirators for distribution in the United States and abroad. In total, Phan, Hul, Peebles, Tran, and other co-conspirators obtained at least $330,000 worth of new cell phones by defrauding T-Mobile.
Co-defendants Kevin Johnson, 24, of New York, NY, and Khoa Doan, 32 of Manchester, NH, are currently scheduled to stand trial on a date to be set by the Court.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Stephen A. Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office acknowledges T-Mobile for its assistance with the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit.