A former senior IT officer has allowed his employer to be out of $6 million–by creating a fake technology company that blamed his bosses for counterfeit services.
On Friday, US Attorneys General announced that Hicham Kabbaj, 48, from Floral Park, Long Island, New York, was guilty of a wire fraud count. He faces up to 20 years in the clink, although he will probably receive less and will be sentenced by Federal Judge Richard Berman later this year.
According to Uncle Sam’s court filings, Kabbaj, who identified him as a’ global Internet company’ based in Manhattan, in several positions that enabled him to manage IT transactions for his unidentified employer, was funneling millions into his pockets via fake tech purchases between August 2015 and May 2019.
Hicham Kabbaj works in New York for Rakuten Marketing in various IT-related positions from May 2015 to August 2019, including senior technicians and engineering, according to LinkedIn. Rakuten did not answer a comment request.
Here’s how the scheme worked, according to investigators. In 2015, Kabbaj set up an IT-service provider shell company known as Interactive Systems, but which was, just a corporate name and a bank account.
During the next four years, Interactive Systems provided the employer with the receipt and acceptance of the invoices for hardware, including a firewall and 16 servers. Interactive Systems also received a recurring retainer charge. Nevertheless, no equipment or facilities were ever provided, and payments for the buggy kit were going into the personal pockets of Kabbaj.
The crook did not put serial numbers on invoices or reused serial numbers of equipment already owned by his employer to cover his tracks and avoid checks. But, it wasn’t so smart: four of the bills were written in Microsoft Word, and the metadata file revealed that they came from a machine copy of Kabbaj.
After his employers paid for the phantom equipment, Kabbaj shifted the collected cash on his bank account from Interactive Systems. It made the fraudster a whopping $6 million (£ 4.6 million). The last payment was confirmed to have taken place in May 2019. A few months later, after prosecutors spoke to two of his associates and gathered evidence they wanted to replicate, Kabbaj was collared and arrested by the Feds in September.
As part of his guilty plea, Kabbaj agreed to give back his former employers $6,051.453, from his two homes in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Hewitt, New Jersey, to any income from his crimes.
Kabbaj is not innovative in his system, although he is competent. Other IT administrators have been forced to run the same scam before.