Two Men Sentenced in Multi-State Scheme to Fraudulently Obtain New Cell Phones
BOSTON – Two men were sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain and re-sell more than $330,000 in new cell phones.
Jimmy Phan, 30, of Boston, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay approximately $275,000 in restitution. Judge Wolf also sentenced Lee Tran, 30, of Waltham, to 12 months of probation and ordered him to pay approximately $3,200 in restitution. Phan and Tran both pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in February 2016.
Phan and Tran were part of a six-person, multi-state scheme to defraud T-Mobile. Co-defendant Kevin Johnson was sentenced in April 2017 to 70 months in prison. In May 2016, co-defendants David Hul and Curtis Peebles were sentenced to 21 and 18 months in prison, respectively. The wire fraud conspiracy charge against the sixth co-defendant, Khoa Doan, was dismissed when Judge Wolf sentenced Doan to prison on a related charge.
Phan, Hul, Peebles, Johnson, and 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, Johnson, 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, to go into T-Mobile stores and impersonate the customers. Phan, Hul, Peebles and Johnson sometimes directed the runners to use false names that closely matched their 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 each 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 co-conspirators for distribution in the United States and abroad. In total, the scheme netted at least $330,000 worth of new cell phones.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; 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. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Weinreb’s Cybercrime Unit prosecuted the case.