AT&T Sues Three Former Employees For Wide-Scale Phone Unlocking Scheme

AT&T is suing a trio of former employees for allegedly installing malware on company computers to give an outside firm remote access to its systems. The outside company, called Swift Unlocks, then used its unauthorized access to AT&T's computers to sell cell phone unlocking services, according to AT&T's lawsuit (PDF).

Normally AT&T doesn't provide unlock codes to customers who are still under a service agreement. By locking down phones, AT&T ensures that subsidized phones will only work on its wireless network. Once a customer fulfill their wireless contract, AT&T is required by rules set out by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to supply an unlock code so that a customer can take their device to another wireless carrier, if that's what they want to do.


In the lawsuit, AT&T names Kyra Evans, Nguyen Lam, and Marc Sapatin as former customer call center employees who purposefully installed malware on computer computers to give Swift Unlocks' Prashan Vira remote access to its systems. AT&T also alleges that Sapatin tried to recruit another AT&T employee, telling the worker that she only needed to click a link to download the malware. In return, she would receive bi-weekly payments of $2,000, the lawsuit states.

"We’re seeking damages and injunctive relief from several people who engaged in a scheme a couple of years ago to illegally unlock wireless telephones used on our network. It’s important to note that this did not involve any improper access of customer information, or any adverse effect on our customers," AT&T said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges that by the time AT&T discovered the malware in October 2013, Sapatin had received $10,500 for his role, while Evans collected at least $20,000.