CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two Charlotte business owners, Hamzeh Jamal Alasfar, 30, and Tayseer Issam Alkhayyat, 34, both of Charlotte, are facing federal charges for allegedly selling fraudulently obtained Apple iPhones (iPhones) and other electronic devices to domestic and international buyers, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Reginald DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service (USSS), Charlotte Field Office, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, Alasfar and Alkhayyat owned multiple businesses located in Charlotte, including Cellport International Inc. (Cellport) and D Town Wireless (D Town). Cellport had an additional location in Florida. The indictment alleges that, as early as 2013 and continuing through January 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.
As alleged in the indictment, Alasfar and Alkhayyat obtained the fraudulently obtained 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. The indictment alleges that Alasfar and Alkhayyat’s businesses were known to boosters and vendors in the area as places they could sell stolen and fraudulently obtained devices, including new in-the-box iPhones.
As alleged in the indictment, between January 2019 and January 2020, the defendants 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, which was controlled by Alasfar and Alkhayyat, 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 charged with conspiracy to transport stolen and fraudulently obtained goods in interstate commerce, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and two counts of interstate and foreign transportation of stolen property, which carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine per count.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations and the defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Alasfar and Alkhayyat will be ordered to appear on a summons for their initial appearances, which will be scheduled in federal court in Charlotte.
This case was the result of the investigative efforts of CMPD and the Secret Service, which have established a fully integrated partnership to combat the most significant organized criminal groups operating in Charlotte. Through this partnership, this unit has successfully leveraged local and federal resources, personnel, expertise and authorities to identify and combat the criminals and criminal organizations that have the largest negative impact on the community.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Bozin and Michael E. Savage of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.