Three brothers described as "high-level members" of the Mustafa crime family have been handed lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in a $20 million cellphone scam.
The brothers, 40-year-old Kanan, 45-year-old Jamal and 26-year-old Nizar Mustafa received sentences of between seven and eight-and-a-half years from Chief Judge John R. Tunheim in federal court in Minneapolis this week. They also must pay more than $1 million in restitution.
Acting Minnesota U.S. States Attorney Gregory Booker said they were high-level members of the Mustafa organization, which used the Twin Cities as its home hub for a criminal enterprise trafficking stolen cellphones and electronics across the country and overseas.
"Not only did these individuals commit crimes related to the purchase and sale of stolen cellular telephones, they also committed several tax fraud crimes, such as failure to file tax returns, preparation of false W-2s, and filing of false claims for tax refunds," Booker said.
They were among 21 people who pleaded guilty to their involvement in an elaborate conspiracy, which includes other members of the Mustafa family.
They used criminal means to obtain $20 million-worth of stolen cellphones, operating 13 stores in the metro area where they bought illegally-obtained devices, and paid runners to steal phones or get them using stolen ID information.
"They re-sold the stolen phones and tablets for substantial profits that were then distributed among themselves and used to pay for rent, utilities, payroll and other expenses to keep their stores in business and promote the criminal activity," the states attorney said.
The trio also admitted to falsifying loan applications for vehicles they used to transport stolen devices, and making fraudulent credit card transactions to steal from credit processing companies, using the proceeds to buy more cell phones, pay for the upkeep of their stores and for their own personal expenses.