Florida man pleads guilty to par­tic­i­pat­ing in Caribbean cell phone fraud scheme

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

AMi­ami Gar­dens, Florida res­i­dent pleaded guilty on Mon­day to mul­ti­ple crim­i­nal charges in con­nec­tion with a so­phis­ti­cated Caribbean cell phone fraud scheme that in­volved com­pro­mis­ing cell phone cus­tomers’ accounts and “cloning” their phones to make fraud­u­lent in­ter­na­tional calls.

Ed­win Fana, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of con­spir­acy to com­mit wire fraud, ac­cess de­vice fraud, the use, pro­duc­tion or pos­ses­sion of mod­i­fied telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions instruments, and the use or pos­ses­sion of hard­ware or soft­ware con­fig­ured to ob­tain telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices. Fana also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of ag­gra­vated iden­tity theft. Sen­tenc­ing will be sched­uled for a later date be­fore U.S. Dis­trict Judge Daniel Hur­ley of the South­ern Dis­trict of Florida.

Ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment, Fana and his co-con­spir­a­tors par­tic­i­pated in a scheme to steal ac­cess to and fraud­u­lently open new cell phone accounts us­ing the personal in­for­ma­tion of in­di­vid­u­als around the United States. Fana ad­mit­ted that the con­spir­a­tors then traf­ficked in the cell phone cus­tomers’ telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion, us­ing that data as well as other soft­ware and hard­ware to re­pro­gramme cell phones that they con­trolled to trans­mit thou­sands of in­ter­na­tional calls to Cuba, Ja­maica, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic and other coun­tries with high call­ing rates. The calls were billed to the vic­tims’ com­pro­mised accounts, he ad­mit­ted.

Fana’s role in the scheme in­cluded op­er­at­ing a “call site” in his res­i­dence in Mi­ami Gar­dens, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment. He ad­mit­ted that he would re­ceive telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion associated with vic­tims’ accounts from his co­con­spir­a­tors and use that data to re-pro­gramme cell phones that he con­trolled.

Ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment, Fana’s co­con­spir­a­tors would then trans­mit in­ter­na­tional calls over the in­ter­net to Fana’s res­i­dence, where he would route them through the re-pro­grammed cell phones. In Oc­to­ber 2012, the FBI ex­e­cuted a search war­rant on Fana’s res­i­dence and dis­cov­ered ap­prox­i­mately 88 cell phones con­nected to net­work­ing equip­ment and ac­tively rout­ing calls.

Fana ad­mit­ted that law en­force­ment seized nearly 11,000 telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions iden­ti­fy­ing num­bers from him and that the scheme caused at least $1 mil­lion in losses.

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