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Former Subway franchise owner pleads guilty to POS hacking

A former owner of several Subway fast-food restaurants in southern California pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a gift card scheme that involved tampering with several other Subway stores’ computerized cash registers.

Federal prosecutors accused Shahin Abdollahi, 46, of Lake Elsinore, California, of selling point-of-sale systems to at least 13 Subway stores with remote login software called LogMeIn installed, according to the March 2013 indictment.

He and another defendant, Jeffrey Wilkinson, 37, of Rialto, California, were accused of accessing those POS systems using LogMeIn when the stores were closed, loading value onto Subway gift cards. Subway stores accept money for the gift cards and encode the value onto the card.

The two men then allegedly sold the cards, worth as much as US$40,000, on eBay and Craigslist and hand-delivered them to customers.

Abdollahi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He is scheduled for sentencing on May 28, the same day as Wilkinson, who also pleaded guilty to related charges in February.

Abdollahi was accused of forming a company in California called “POS Doctor,” which sold new and refurbished POS systems to Subway franchises nationwide, including in Wyoming, California and Massachusetts. Abdollahi operated the business under an alias, Sean Holdt, prosecutors alleged.

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