AT&T sues former employees for allegedly unlocking "hundreds of thousands" contract-bound phones

By midian182
Sep 21, 2015
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  1. AT&T is suing three of its former employees that it accuses of helping to unlock hundreds of thousands of cell phones so the devices could work with any other wireless carrier. Marc Sapatin, Nguyen Lam, and Kyra Evans all worked at an AT&T call center in Washington in 2013, where it’s claimed they "perpetuated the Unlock Scheme by creating, distributing, and placing on AT&T's computer systems a 'malware' program designed to fraudulently, and without authorization, transmit unlock requests that unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones from exclusive use on AT&T's network,” according to the complaint filed in Seattle’s US district court.

    AT&T claim that the accused trio collaborated with Anaheim-based company Swift Unlocks in the scheme. The SwiftUnlocks website offers a service that unlocks a variety of phones for a fee. It’s alleged that the company owner and operator, Prashant Vira, paid Evans at least $20,000 "for her placement and/or execution of the malware programs on AT&T's protected computer systems for the purpose of securing the fraudulent unlock." AT&T further alleged that Swift Unlocks paid Sapatin - who also attempted to involve other AT&T employees in the fraud - at least $10,500. No payments to Lam were alleged.

    The malware allowed commands to be issued from a remote, unauthorized server and used "valid customer service personnel identification numbers" to process automated unlock requests without proper authorization, AT&T wrote. The company added that it believed 50 “John Doe Defendants” helped develop the software.

    AT&T is seeking financial damages and injunctions preventing the defendants from continuing the alleged activity. The company gave the following statement to ars technica: "We’re seeking damages and injunctive relief from several people who engaged in a scheme a couple of years ago to illegally unlock wireless telephones used on our network. It’s important to note that this did not involve any improper access of customer information, or any adverse effect on our customers."

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  2. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Maniac Posts: 475   +153

    Can someone explain me the alleged damages? If you have a contract, you're obliged to pay in the accorded time-frame, no matter what phone you have or if sold it before term.
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,104   +533

    I think this is more a case of stepping on toes than any real damages. They want to lock customers out of as many options as possible and they want to have it their way.
    Lionvibez likes this.
  4. G0DofPaiN

    G0DofPaiN TS Booster Posts: 55   +30

    Well even if it gets unlocked, the phone still has to be paid for if it was bought on contract, at least that's how it is in Europe. Alleged damages? What if the owner never uses that sim card or used gevey sim or something similar or never used more than his data plan before unlocking, how would they know how much to charge the ex-employees? Also "It’s important to note that this did not involve any improper access of customer information, or any adverse effect on our customers." - pretty much bulls**t
  5. agb81

    agb81 TS Booster Posts: 77   +38

    If you stop paying, you ESN gets blacklisted, but that won't matter if sold overseas.

    That's the only con I see. Besides, IIRC you can actually call ATT customer service and ask them nicely to get you phone unlocked.
  6. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Booster Posts: 102   +56

    AT&T just becomes more pathetic every day...
    SirGCal likes this.

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