AT&T Sues Ex-Employees For Fraudulent Unlocking Scheme

Former AT&T employees are facing a lawsuit related to their involvement in a scheme which fraudulently unlocked company handsets.

The trio, working in conjunction with another defendant who was not employed by AT&T, used the company’s own systems to unlock handsets previously locked to the network. Marc Sapatin, Nguyen Lam, and Kyra Evans are accused of participating in the scheme during their time at an AT&T call center in Washington in 2013, writes David Murphy for PC Mag.

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Unlock scheme allegedly financed by business owner

AT&T filed a complaint in Seattle’s U.S. District Court last week, alleging that the trio “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.”

Ars Technica reports that AT&T implicates a fourth individual known as Prashant Vira in the affair. Vira owns and operates a company named Swift Unlocks, and reportedly paid Evans around $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.”

The report claims Sapatin was paid approximately $10,000, while details about Lam’s arrangement are unknown.

Lucrative scheme brought down by AT&T

AT&T told the court that “Sapatin also attempted to recruit other AT&T employees to participate in the Unlock Scheme.” He told one attempted recruit that “she only had to click on a link provided by someone else involved in the Unlock Scheme to download the software, and the program would run invisibly on his computer. Sapatin promised the employee that she would make $2,000 every two weeks through her participation in the Unlock Scheme.”

The malware reportedly allowed the defendants to read proprietary and internal AT&T information. The aforementioned defendants, along with as many as 50 other “John Doe defendants,” would then use the information to tweak the program and send it to Evans before she reinstalled it on company computers.

AT&T maintains that no customer information was compromised. The company is asking for financial damages and injunctions to prevent defendants from maintaining their scheme.