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Press Release

North Carolina Men Sentenced To Prison For Transporting Fraudulently Obtained Phones Out Of State

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two North Carolina family members, Lal H. Mahtani, 58, of Statesville and Vivek Ramesh Mahtani, 41, of Cornelius were sentenced yesterday in federal court before Judge Kenneth D. Bell for conspiring to transport fraudulently obtained and stolen new Apple iPhones and other electronic devices to buyers in other states and overseas, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. 

Lal Mahtani received a sentence of 36 months followed by three years of supervised release.   His nephew, Vivek Mahtani, received a sentence of 18 months, also followed by three years of supervised release. 

Jason Byrnes, 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 documents filed in the case, from 2018 through February 2020, the defendants worked together in a scheme to purchase new iPhones and other electronic devices from individuals who had obtained the devices through fraudulent means, often from wireless stores.  The defendants purchased the new iPhones, which were frequently in their sealed packaging at prices substantially below their retail value. Many of the fraudulently obtained devices were purchased by Lal Mahtani at New York Styles, his retail store in Statesville. 

The defendants transported the fraudulently obtained devices using a shipping company to other states, including California, Texas, New York, and Georgia, as well as overseas destinations, such as Hong Kong. Vivek Mahtani also sold many of the devices to Cellport, a Charlotte-based business owned and operated by Hamzeh Alasfar and Tayseer Alkhayyat. Alasfar and Alkhayyat pleaded guilty in Charlotte last month to related charges before Judge Bell. 

According to filed documents, the defendants shipped more than 1,700 pounds of fraudulently obtained devices, resulting in financial losses that exceeded $1.5 million. 

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. Attorney William T. Bozin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.

Updated April 5, 2023

Financial Fraud