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Press Release

Federal Jury Finds Charlotte Business Owner Guilty Of Selling Stolen iPhones Overseas

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury has found a Charlotte business owner guilty of conspiracy, international transportation of stolen goods, and money laundering, for selling stolen and fraudulently obtained Apple iPhones (iPhones) and other electronic devices to overseas buyers, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. presided over the trial which ended late yesterday.

Jason Byrne, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service (USSS), Charlotte Field Office, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to court documents, trial evidence, and witness testimony, Rami Mahmod Mhana, 46, was the owner of Wireless City Fashions, Inc. (Wireless City) and Protocol Business Group Inc. (Protocol), located at 441 Bradford Drive in Charlotte, as well as multiple Boost mobile stores in the Charlotte area. From at least May 2017 through October 2019, Mhana purchased thousands of brand new, current generation iPhones and other electronic devices, many of which were stolen and fraudulently obtained. Mhana then shipped the new iPhones to the United Arab Emirates (the U.A.E.) and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong).

Trial evidence established that Mhana obtained a significant portion of the stolen and fraudulently obtained devices from multiple local “boosters.” A booster is a person who steals or obtains through fraud goods and products and sells them for profit.  According to evidence presented at trial, Mhana’s store on Bradford Drive was known to local boosters as a place they could sell stolen devices for cash with no questions asked. Evidence at trial further established that Mhana provided his employees with a  pricelist of how much they should pay for certain new model iPhones and other electronic devices. Mhana would pay boosters significantly less than retail value of the devices. Over the course of the scheme, Mhana received more than $4.5 million in international wires from buyers of the devices in Dubai and Hong Kong.

Following the guilty verdict, Mhana was released on electronic monitoring. At sentencing, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy charge; up to 10 years in  prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of international transportation of stolen goods; and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine for each money laundering conviction.

This case was the result of the investigative efforts of CMPD and the Secret Service, which have established a fully integrated partnership to combat the most significant organized criminal groups operating in Charlotte. Through this partnership, this unit has successfully leveraged local and federal resources, personnel, expertise and authorities to identify and combat the criminals and criminal organizations that have the largest negative impact on the community.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael E. Savage and William Bozin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.


Updated May 23, 2023

Financial Fraud