Phone unlocking, to be clear, is legal in the United States if the phone in question is out of a service contract. Even though some companies have a hard time of coping with this reality, it’s codefied law of the land here. But what AT&T accuses three former employees, one owner of an unlocked phone resale company and 50 unnamed people of doing definitely raises some eyebrows.
In the case filed in Seattle US District Court, the ex-AT&T staff allegedly installed malware onto a Seattle-area’s AT&T store’s computers that was able to compromise the carrier’s proprietary customer service software to submit numerous (“thousands per day” as noted in the source doc) phone unlock requests. The 50 “John Does” aided the employees by refining malware code and sending them those revisions. The codes were routed to a remote server and then to a company out of Anaheim, CA called Swift Unlocks. Swift Unlocks paid lucrative rates to the code raiders for their transactions. The activity occurred between April and September of 2013.
The assumption is that Swift Unlocks sought to profit from the sale of what were not-to-be unlocked AT&T smartphones. It’s not known exactly how many devices were unlocked and whether they were just unlocked for Swift Unlocks’s customers or sold to Swift Unlocks to be resold.