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