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The illicit gains from 26,000 fraudulent transactions are now turning into legal consequences, as the orchestrator, 34-year-old American Delano Bush from Southfield, Michigan, recently admitted guilt in a multimillion-dollar mobile phone fraud. The group, self-styled as "Clear Gods," exploited stolen personal data to make numerous credit-based purchases of new phones.

According to U.S. prosecutor Dawn N. Ison, the fraudulent transactions reached more than 26,000, causing total losses exceeding $28 million. Between June 2017 and September 2019, Bush and his associates unlawfully acquired victims' personal data, used it to create contracts with AT&T, and procured mobile devices on credit. Bush entered his guilty plea on December 6.

Prosecutor Ayson emphasized the significance of the guilty plea in this extended investigation, underscoring the ever-evolving nature of identity theft and fraudsters' continual adaptation to new methods of exploiting personal information.

Bush faces a potential maximum prison sentence of 20 years for conspiracy to commit fraud. As part of the plea agreement, he will be obligated to reimburse AT&T with a minimum of $1.5 million. The sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2024.

The "Clear Gods" participants initially obtained leaked personal information from various sources, including "Internet dumps," using it to establish AT&T mobile accounts. To pass credit checks, they often enlisted corrupt AT&T employees' assistance or impersonated network personnel, even resorting to stealing work tablets from AT&T retail offices.

These criminals frequented retail stores, particularly Apple, across different states for "service upgrades," purchasing new devices using fraudulent accounts. Subsequently, they canceled credit obligations from the utilized accounts, including accessing the AT&T network, repeating the process at different retail locations.

Special Agent Angie M. Salazar from the Department of Homeland Security (HSI) in Detroit highlighted the necessity of collaborative efforts between federal, state, and local partners to effectively investigate and prosecute such intricate fraud operations. By disrupting these schemes, the cooperation aims to safeguard the livelihoods of hardworking Americans both in Michigan and throughout the nation.