Amir Hossein Golshan, a 24-year-old man from Downtown Los Angeles, has been indicted on six counts of federal fraud for defrauding female social media influencers. The indictment alleges that Golshan targeted social media influencers, models, and their friends, and engaged in “SIM swapping” to gain control of their Instagram accounts and extort money from them.
“SIM swapping” involves fraudulently inducing a carrier to reassign a cellphone number from the legitimate subscriber or user’s SIM card to a SIM card controlled by another without authorization. Golshan allegedly deceived victims’ phone carriers into transporting their cellphone numbers to his phone, reset their passwords, and controlled their social media accounts.
The indictment alleges that Golshan impersonated the victims to their online friends, requesting that the friends send him money. Other times, Golshan allegedly extorted the victims for money and sexually explicit chats to return their social media accounts. He allegedly collected approximately $15,000 in illicit gains from one victim alone.
In another incident, Golshan allegedly took control of a victim’s Instagram account, changed its password, and demanded $5,000 from her. He allegedly later told the victim that he would return her Instagram account to her if she initiated a video call and stripped for him.
The indictment also alleges that Golshan engaged in other fraudulent schemes on social media, such as charging victims hundreds of dollars each for verified badges on Instagram, knowing that he could not provide the verified badges he purported to sell. Golshan has been in federal custody since his arrest on a criminal complaint in this case on February 2, and his arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning in United States District Court.
If convicted of all charges, Golshan would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, up to five years in federal prison for each computer hacking-related count, and a mandatory two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The case highlights the dangers of SIM swapping and social engineering, which involves manipulating individuals to divulge confidential information.
Social media platforms can be particularly vulnerable to these attacks because users often share personal information publicly, making it easier for hackers to gather data to use in their attacks. It is essential for social media users to be cautious of suspicious messages and to enable two-factor authentication to protect their accounts.