Law enforcement has arrested four men from Arizona facing multiple charges concerning the illegal trafficking of stolen electronic gadgets and stolen Apple products to overseas markets.
Two of the men have been identified as Michael Stoian and Arik Tasa Bennet, 24 and 25 years old respectively. Their release bond is placed at $1 million, while they are held at Maricopa County Jail. The two were the masterminds who oversaw the illegal business where various companies were used to conduct the illicit transactions.
An informer who was aware of the unlawful scheme since 2015 alerted authorities. Court records reveal that the informant provided the court with statements after the men had been arrested on the 18th of October.
An investigator’s report revealed that the two culprits, Tasa and Arik, bought the stolen merchandise from the dark web by making use of stolen identities. They thought that they had remained anonymous. Merchandise that was purchased from the dark web included iPhones, computers, iPods, smart watches, and more tech devices. The stolen goods were then moved overseas with their fake identities as business managers.
But each of these companies served simply as a shell agency to receive the goods. The court revealed some of these companies by name, including, Cash Panda Limited Liability Company, Shooterz Limited Liability Company, Tech Liquidators Limited Liability Company and Titanium Tech Limited Liability Company.
Court documents also revealed that the evidence to support the informer’s claims was acquired through seizing the mobile phones, as well as, surveillance of the two suspects during their transactions in random parking lots.
The investigation revealed two others who were charged with conspiracy for aiding Tasa and Arik in their illegal activities. Court records identified the two conspirators as Brett Pinnar, a 22-year-old from Phoenix and Abdallah Hamdan, a 40-year-old from Scottsdale.
Investigations revealed that Abdallah Hamdan was a major player in the ordering and exchanging of stolen products. He would meet several times a week with both suspects.
Brett Pinnar was observed by investigators having collected the larger shipments that contained stolen devices. Court records revealed the name of the company as Mobile Tech Buyback.
Suspicious money transactions and wired transfers led the investigators to issue a court order via the Attorney General’s office in Arizona to acquire bank records of one of the companies, Titanium tech.
The acquired records showed huge deposits of cash within a period of six months from April to October in 2017. Bank records indicated numerous withdrawals of money by the suspects during the same time period.
Search warrants were issued on the 17th of October and this ultimately led to the seizure of 550 cell phones, 25 iPads, four vehicles, three airpods, 13 Apple smart watches, 17 computers, eight firearms, cash amounting to $124,000, and three bank accounts associated with the crimes. The court records, however, do not specify whether the mobile phones and computers were all Apple products.
Court records placed Stoian as the ringleader of the scheme. Stoian was arrested and heavily charged with 27 counts in trafficking of stolen merchandise, a count each of conspiracy, money laundering, fraud, participation in a criminal syndicate and illegally controlling an enterprise.
The other three suspects and accomplices face one count of money laundering, trafficking stolen merchandise, controlling an enterprise illegally, and assisting in a criminal syndicate.
The court hearings are scheduled to be held on the 29th of October for Stoian and Arik while the other two, face a judge on November 7.