14 Feb 2013

Identity Theft Scheme Lands Fraudster $8 Million from AT&T and T-Mobile

A man was arrested for allegedly engaging in identity theft leading to fraudulent cell phone services that caused $8 million in losses for telecommunication providers AT&T and T-Mobile.

Amadou Dia and his co-conspirators ran the scheme since 2001 by using stolen identity information to “activate fraudulent mobile telephone accounts and then make telephone calls to fraudulent overseas telephone numbers that charged a premium connection fee”.

The identities of over 1,000 people - about half of them retired or active-duty U.S. Military personnel - were used in the scheme. Information such as social security numbers and dates of birth were used to create fake SIM cards and rack up phone bills by placing calls to premium rated numbers that cost $1 a minute to connect.

“As alleged, Amadou Dia and his co-conspirators dialed for dollars - many millions of them - by stealing countless identities, including hundreds belonging to U.S. military personnel, and racking up international phone bills in their names that left telecom service providers holding the bag," said Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Identity theft is an epidemic of global proportions and we are bound and determined to identify and prosecute those who engage in this illegal conduct.”

Concluding that the arrest closed down a sophisticated operation that could have been even more costly, CIS Resident Agent-in-Charge Kenneth Siegler said his division will continue to expose such scams and “protect America's war fighters’identities”.