In the fall of 2020, thieves hit more than two dozen AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon cellphone stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston.
Finally, the FBI and Dallas police arrested four crew members after robbing an AT&T store in Fort Worth in December, officials said.
Takeover-style armed robberies reported more than $500,000 in losses as suspects gained access to store safes for new Apple iPhones. From Colleyville to Corinth and from Garland to Greenville, the flights continued for months.
Their arrests led investigators to uncover a much larger criminal conspiracy, a phone trafficking business worth nearly $100 million, according to an unsealed indictment in Texas federal court. this week.
Investigators of the Fort Worth robbery obtained a search warrant that discovered cell phones stolen earlier in the night and phones from three other robberies as well as devices obtained through fraud, according to the indictment. From there, the investigation focused on Global One Wireless, a Dallas phone store owned by Plano brothers Abdul Basit Bhangda, 30, and Arsalan “Adam” Bhangda, 36.
“The criminal conspiracy, as alleged in the superseding indictment, is breathtaking in scope and varied in its means,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Nicholas Ganjei, in a statement. “While the public can often see criminal acts ‘above the surface’, such as the robberies alleged in the replacement indictment, this case reminds us that we don’t often see the criminal conspiracy. hidden “below the surface”.
The brothers are accused of acting through parent company RJ Telecom to sell stolen products internationally by shipping them to importers in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. The indictment says nearly $100 million worth of product was sold to foreign importers. This included phones, tablets, laptops and smartwatches.
As part of the conspiracy, employees of “compromised” stores also activated phones with false identities and fraudulently added lines to existing customer accounts, officials said.
“Other schemes allegedly involved the use of false identity information as well as legitimate customer information to exchange SIM cards, allowing defendants to verify banking information via text message and withdraw funds from customer accounts” , federal prosecutors said in a news release. The indictment charges 101 defendants with various offenses, including conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce; interference in interstate commerce; using or brandishing a firearm in a violent crime; conspiracy to transport stolen goods in interstate commerce; mail fraud conspiracy; wire fraud conspiracy; and money laundering conspiracy.
Summary of news:
- Feds say robbery at Fort Worth phone store led to discovery of $100 million conspiracy
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