Bensalem Police shut down a cell phone scam that authorities said cost the local Wal-Mart store $76,000 in lost reimbursements.
Five Philadelphia residents have been charged with four felony offenses each for their alleged involvement in the theft ring, which police said involved the resale of 131 iPhones on the street for profit.
Wal-Mart's loss prevention department tipped off Bensalem Police on Oct. 2 to the alleged scheme which authorities said was carried out through Wal-Mart employee Isaiah A. Butler, 33, of the 500 block of Manheim Street in Philadelphia.
From Sept. 1 through early October, Butler, who worked in the store's electronics department, allegedly sold 131 iPhones which were never activated, according to court documents. Wal-Mart, which sells the devices for about $100 instead of the typical $600 price tag, is reimbursed for the difference in the phone's value upon the customer's phone activation and start of a contract with a wireless provider, according to documents.
Since the phones were not activated, Wal-Mart was not reimbursed, which ultimately cost the store a $76,000 loss, according to court documents.
Authorities allege that Butler and his alleged co-conspirators, David Smith, 29, of the 2800 block of North Marvine Street; Darnell Jackson, 23, of the 4200 block of North Bodine Street; and Aisha S. Shirer, 35, of the 2500 block of Chadwick Street, used "multiple different names and identity profiles" on contracts and "Butler discovered a way to override the cashier system to assist with the scam," according to court records.
Azzamaddeen Mohamed Gobah, 26, of the 4000 block of City Avenue is said to have been "one of the primary outlets for the stolen phones as well as the person who provided the money for payments to be distributed," according to court documents.
At the time of his arrest, police said Gobah had in his possession nine new Galaxy cell phones that were still packaged. During a search of Gobah's home, 25 new phones and a box full of used SIM cards were recovered, according to police.
Smith, Shirer and Jackson are being held in the Bucks County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail each, while Butler is being held on $500,000 bail. Gobah is free after posting 10 percent of $200,000 bail.