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CA man sentenced to 10 years for illegally unlocking thousands of phones


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A Los Angeles cellphone store owner who stole some $25 million from wireless carriers by illegally unlocking phones was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison.

Argishti Khudaverdyan, 44, of Burbank, also was ordered to pay nearly $28.5 million in restitution, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.

Khudaverdyan owned a T-Mobile retail store in the Eagle Rock neighborhood. In a years-long scheme, he unlocked hundreds of thousands of cellphones on T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and other phone networks, prosecutors said.

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Unlocking phones allowed the phones to be switched to another carrier or be sold on the black market, authorities said.

Khudaverdyan also removed blocks that carriers placed in the case of lost or stolen phones, prosecutors said.

To unlock the phones, Khudaverdyan used phishing emails and other methods to trick T-Mobile employees into providing their information. He and others stole credentials from more than 50 employees nationwide, authorities said.

In August, Khudaverdyan was convicted of 14 felonies including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, conspiracy and illegally accessing a computer without authorization.

A co-defendant, Alen Gharehbagloo, 43, of La Cañada Flintridge pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and other charges. He will be sentenced in February.

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