Court Sends Subway Restaurant Hacker to Jail for 18 Months

A California man was sentenced today for remotely hacking into the computerized cash registers of a number of Subway restaurants and fraudulently obtaining more than $40,000 in gift cards.

Shahin Abdollahi, also known as Sean Holdt, 46, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns in Boston to serve 18 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $43,712 in restitution to Subway.  In May, 2014, Abdollahi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  Abdollahi’s co-conspirator, Jeffrey Wilkinson, 37, of Rialto, Calif., was sentenced to six months in prison in May 2014.

Abdollahi owned Subway franchises in Southern California from 2005 to 2008 and later operated a California company called POS Doctor, which sold and installed point-of-sale (POS) computer systems to Subway restaurant franchises around the country. POS systems are a type of computerized checkout register that allows merchants to manage customer purchases made by credit, debit and gift cards.

Beginning in 2011, Abdollahi and Wilkinson conspired to remotely hack into POS systems in Subway restaurant franchises around the country. Members of the conspiracy hacked into at least 13 Subway POS systems that Abdollahi sold through his company and fraudulently added at least $40,000 in value to Subway gift cards. Abdollahi and Wilkinson used the fraudulent gift cards to make purchases at Subway, and Wilkinson also sold fraudulent gift cards to others using eBay and Craigslist.