Tech CEO Pleads to Wire Fraud in IP Address Scheme
Amir Golestan, the former CEO of a South Caroline technology firm called Micfo LLC, has pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wire fraud in connection with an extensive network of phone companies. The phone companies were set up to obtain more than 735,000 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from the nonprofit organization that leases digital real estate to entities in North America. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which oversees IP addresses assigned to North America, notified Micfo LLC in 2018 that it planned to revoke 735,000 addresses. Golestan had allegedly obtained the addresses under false pretenses.
A global shortage of IPv4 addresses had massively driven up the prices of the resource over the past several years. At the time of the claim, a single IP address could sell for as much as $25 on the open market. Micfo reportedly sued ARIN over the recall, attempting to stop the address seizure. ARIN and Micfo settled the dispute and Micfo returned most of the addresses that had not been sold. However, the dispute caught the attention of the South Carolina US Attorney, who eventually filed criminal wire fraud charges against CEO Golestan. The US Attorney alleged that Golestan had orchestrated a network of shell companies and fake identities to prevent ARIN from realizing that the addresses were going to the same buyer. Golestan is charged with 20 counts of wire fraud as each of the shell companies involved in the production of notarized affidavits in the name of people who did not exist. After originally pleading not guilty, Golestan changed his stance and decided to plea guilty to the charges.