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Micfo CEO Amir Golestan has been sentenced to prison for five years for using made-up people and fake email addresses in order to amass more than 735,000 IP addresses which he then sold to spammers and scammers in China, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, along with a smattering of actual legitimate customers. The actual crime of which he is convicted is wire fraud, however for our purposes it is the subject of that fraud, the acts and deeds which led to the fraud charges, which are interesting.
Here’s what Amir Golestan did: He set up as many as ten different fake companies, each run by a fake person, and each fake person had an email address associated with them. However, the email addresses were also fake – oh sure, they received email, but the person at the other end of the email address was none other than Golestan himself, or one of his lackeys at Micfo.
Then he would submit requests for IP address allocation to ARIN using the fake accounts of the fake people at the fake companies. This was so that if ARIN shut down one of the IP blocks assigned to one of the fake companies, Golestan would still have several other blocks of IP addresses, assigned to the other fake companies.
Why would ARIN shut down one of these IP blocks? Well, because Golestan was selling the IP addresses within those blocks to spammers and scammers. In fact, at least one of Golestan’s entities ended up listed on ROKSO, which is the Spamhaus Projects Register of Known Spam Operations; and you have to try really hard to get listed on ROKSO.
Here’s the thing, as if it weren’t bad enough that he was setting up these fictitious companies to scam ARIN into giving him more IP addresses, he had a notary in his employ who was having to notarize each of the signatures of each of the fake people.
And then guess what happened?
That’s right, the notary gave evidence in a different court case with Mr. Golestan.
This all came to light when Golestan sued ARIN (whaaa..?) seeking a restraining order restraining ARIN from revoking at least some of the IP addresses after ARIN had discovered the fraud.
In the transcript of the civil case (also embedded below), which triggered the criminal investigation and eventual criminal case against Golestan, ARIN’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, explains “That former employee in her counterclaim and answer, at paragraph 129 and paragraph 130 of her answer to his attack on her, those paragraphs indicate that the person whose affidavit has been proffered by the plaintiffs in this case, Mr. Golestan, actually has a pattern of defrauding my client, ARIN, by creating false paperwork by alias people who don’t exist, that are made up out of whole cloth, and this young woman was ordered to notarize the documents that we require to ensure that people understand that they shouldn’t be trying to defraud us in getting the resources. We hand out these resources, and she was, in essence, being used as part of the scheme and artifice to defraud by creating the notary seals on the false documents for the aliases.”
Ultimately it all came crashing down last month (September, 2023) when, in the criminal fraud case of United States v. Golestan, Golestan was sentenced to five years in prison.
ARIN has put out a comprehensive, and enlightening, statement here. And you can read the PDF of the transcript in the motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the case that Golestan brought against ARIN, from which we have quoted above, here:arin-golestan-transcript