LCF Man Charged in Alleged $25 Million Cellphone Scheme

A La Cañada Flintridge man and a Burbank resident have pleaded not guilty to a string of felony charges, with federal authorities alleging that the pair used stolen T-Mobile employee credentials to unlock cellphones in a scheme that earned the men more than $25 million.
Alen Gharehbagloo, 40, of LCF and Argishti Khudaverdyan, 41, were arrested Monday, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
The men pleaded not guilty on Monday afternoon and were ordered to stand trial on Aug. 6 in federal court in Los Angeles, said department spokesman Thom Mrozek in an email.
Each was released on bond — $225,000 for Gharehbagloo and $200,000 for Khudaverdyan — Mrozek said.
Messages left with the men’s attorneys were not returned by The Outlook’s press deadline.
Charges against Gharehbagloo and Khudaverdyan include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud and money laundering.
They were arrested after a grand jury indictment outlined the alleged cellphone scheme.
According to the indictment, the men were co-owners of Top Tier Solutions Inc., a T-Mobile premium retail store in the Eagle Rock Plaza in Eagle Rock.
Most cellular phone companies, including T-Mobile, lock the phones of customers so they can only be used on the company’s network until a service and phone-purchase contract has been fulfilled, according to the indictment.
Both men are alleged to have conspired to fraudulently unlock T-Mobile phones that allowed company customers to stop using the firm’s services and deprive T-Mobile of revenue from the contracts as well as “clean” or “whitelist” phones that were reported stolen or lost to be activated again. To “whitelist” a phone means to remove the proprietary locking software that allows the phone to be used on other cellular providers’ mobile networks rather than just with T-Mobile, according to the indictment. To “clean” a phone means to remove a block on the phone.
The men are alleged to have advertised their “official” T-Mobile services through websites such as unlocks247.com, brokers and email solicitations.
Khudaverdyan is alleged to have gained unauthorized access to T-Mobile’s protected internal computers using phishing emails that appeared to be legitimate. He and Gharehbagloo, helped by a co-conspirator (who was not named), used Wi-Fi access points inside T-Mobile stores to log onto the company’s internal network using compromised employee credentials, the government alleges.
The two men allegedly used the more than $25 million from their activities to purchase properties in LCF, Burbank and Northridge.
The indictment was returned on June 6 by a federal grand jury and unsealed on Monday.
Gharehbagloo could face a maximum of 235 years in federal prison if he is convicted on all 15 counts. Khudaverdyan could be sentenced to a maximum of 237 years in prison if he is convicted on all 17 counts, the Department of Justice said.
The United States Secret Services Electric Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles and the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Western Area Cyber Crime Unit are investigating.
The indictment alleges that a house on El Vago Street in La Cañada Flintridge was purchased with proceeds from the cellphone scheme. Federal search warrants were served at that residence, among others, on Jan. 23, and Secret Service agent Jesse Baker said at the time that the action was related to possible financial crimes.

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