Sep 22, 2015 11:47 AM EDT
Three former AT&T employees have been slapped with a lawsuit as the telco discovered that they have sneaked in software that illegally unlocks mobile phones locked by contract to the company.
Most phones in the US come with cellular contracts, and dangle very affordable payment schemes to the consumers. A lot of consumers, however, would like to be able to use their phones with other carriers, and some may even default on the monthly payments with the original carrier. In this case, it is AT&T.
AT&T is possibly the most disliked, even hated carrier in the US, if the abundance of forum posts are the “smoke” to the “fire.” These three ex-AT&T employees apparently made a killing out of taking “the customer is always right” to an extreme. An illegal extreme.
The lawsuit was filed at the Western District Court of Seattle, Washington. The defendants were named as “Marc Sapatin, Sapatin Nguyen Enterprises, Inc., Sapatin Enterprises, Inc., Nguyen Lam, Kyra Evans, Prashant Vira, Swift Unlocks, Inc., and John Does 1-50, United States Individuals and Entities.” These represent the companies behind the unlocking technology used to perpetuate the illegal unlocks, as well as the three former AT&T employees.
PC Mag identified the former AT&T employees as Marc Sapatin, Nguyen Lam, and Kyra Evans.
AT&T is seeking legal consequences for the individuals, to prevent them from doing the same criminal act, as well as to legally punish them for their crimes. The telco is also seeking financial remuneration for their losses.
AT&T alleges that the unlocking companies Prashant Vira via Swift Unlocks, paid an initial $20,000 to Kyra Evans deploy the malware on AT&T store computers, while Marc Sapatin allegedly received around $10,000. Sapatin also recruited other AT&T employees, and he allegedly promised one employee $2,000 for every week of participation in the unlocking scam.
According to the publicly available copy of the lawsuit, AT&T is seeking an excess of $75,000 in damages for the fraud operation.
For the end-user, it may be best to just get a phone off other carriers from the get-go. Otherwise, the user may wait for the end of the contract with AT&T, then switches carriers. It is the most decent, respectful, legal thing to do.
Read a copy of the lawsuit: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2427279/at-amp-t-unlock-lawsuit.pdf
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