CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Two Charlotte business owners are facing federal charges for allegedly selling stolen Apple iPhones and other electronic devices to domestic and international buyers.
According to U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Dena J. King’s office, 30-year-old Hamzeh Jamal Alasfar and 34-year-old Tayseer Issam Alkhayyat owned multiple businesses around Charlotte including Cellport International Inc. and D Town Wireless. Cellport had an additional location in Florida.
The indictment on both men allege that as early as 2013 and continuing through the beginning of 2020, Alasfar and Alkhayyat purchased thousands of stolen and fraudulently obtained iPhones and other electronic devices, which they then sold and shipped to buyers in other states and in foreign countries.
The indictment alleges both men obtained the devices from multiple “boosters” and “vendors.” A booster is a person who obtains goods and products through theft or other fraudulent means and sells them for profit. A vendor is a person who collects stolen and fraudulently obtained products from boosters and sells them in bulk.
Both men allegedly were known to boosters and vendors in the area as places they could sell their devices, including new in-the-box iPhones.
The indictment says between January 2019 and January 2020, the men sold and shipped through Cellport more than 20,000 new iPhones. The defendants allegedly knew that many of these iPhones had been stolen or obtained by fraud. During the same time frame, Cellport’s bank account allegedly received more than $15 million in wire transfers, many of which came from new iPhone buyers and freight-forwarding services located abroad, including a company in the United Arab Emirates.
Alasfar and Alkhayyat are both charged with conspiracy to transport stolen and fraudulent obtained goods in interstate commerce, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They are also charged with interstate and foreign transportation of stolen property which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine per count.
The charges in the indictment are just allegations at this time and both men considered innocent until proven guilty. They will be ordered to appear for their initial appearances, which will be scheduled in federal court in Charlotte.