Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Pakistani Man Involved in AT&T Hacking Scheme Sentenced to Prison in U.S.

Muhammad Fahd, a 35-year-old Pakistani national, has been sentenced to 12 years of prison in the United States for his role in a scheme that involved illegally unlocking AT&T phones and hacking into the telecoms giant’s systems.

Muhammad Fahd, a 35-year-old Pakistani national, has been sentenced to 12 years of prison in the United States for his role in a scheme that involved illegally unlocking AT&T phones and hacking into the telecoms giant’s systems.

The scheme started in 2012, when Fahd and others recruited AT&T call center employees for help in unlocking phones sold by AT&T to customers under installment plans. These types of devices can only be used on AT&T’s network, but once a phone has been unlocked it can be used on the network on any provider and the device’s owner can avoid paying for AT&T services or making payments for the phone.

Fahd was initially helped directly by AT&T call center employees to unlock phones, but when in 2013 AT&T implemented a new system that made it more difficult for employees to unlock devices, the man hired someone to develop a piece of malware that, once deployed on AT&T’s internal systems, would allow him to remotely unlock phones from Pakistan in larger numbers.

“At Fahd’s request, the employees provided confidential information to Fahd about AT&T’s computer system and unlocking procedures to assist in this process,” the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. “Fahd also had the employees install malware on AT&T’s computers that captured information about AT&T’s computer system and the network access credentials of other AT&T employees. Fahd provided the information to his malware developer, so the developer could tailor the malware to work on AT&T’s computers.”

According to authorities, AT&T determined that more than 1.9 million phones were unlocked as part of the scheme, causing losses of over $200 million due to customers stopping to make payments for their phones.

Fahd was indicted in the United States in 2017 and was arrested the next year in Hong Kong. He was extradited in 2019 and he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2020.

In addition to the 12-year prison sentence, Fahd was ordered to pay $200 million in restitution.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The AT&T employees who helped the Pakistani national have also been prosecuted.

Related: US Sentences Russian, North Macedonian in Cyber Fraud Case

Related: Canadian-US National Sentenced to Prison for Cybercrime Schemes

Related: Computer Malware Fraudster Gets 2 Years in Prison

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join security experts as they discuss ZTNA’s untapped potential to both reduce cyber risk and empower the business.


Join Microsoft and Finite State for a webinar that will introduce a new strategy for securing the software supply chain.


Expert Insights

Related Content


The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.


As it evolves, web3 will contain and increase all the security issues of web2 – and perhaps add a few more.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...


Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group informed some customers last week that their online accounts had been breached by hackers.


Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.


Satellite TV giant Dish Network confirmed that a recent outage was the result of a cyberattack and admitted that data was stolen.

Artificial Intelligence

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.


A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...