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Fri 17 Feb 2012 11:27 AM

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US man uses Dubai for Iran computer scam

Massoud Habibion pleads guilty of illegally exporting computers through Dubai to Iran

US man uses Dubai for Iran computer scam
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A California man pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to illegally export millions of dollars’ worth of computers to Iran through Dubai, US prosecutors said.

Massoud Habibion, 49, co-founder of Costa Mesa, California-based Online Micro, and the company each pleaded guilty in Washington to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to defraud the US, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Habibion, also known as “Matt Habibion” and “Matt Habi,” conspired to export US-origin computers to Iran through Dubai without first obtaining required licences from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, prosecutors said.

Online Micro bought 1,000 computers from Dell in May 2007 for about $500,000, according to the US After receiving service calls from individuals in Iran, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell suspended Online Micro from placing further orders, prosecutors said.

From November 2009 through December 2010, Online Micro conspired with a firm based in Dubai and Tehran to export computer-related goods to Iran from the US. During the conspiracy, Online Micro sold shipments valued at more than $4.9m, prosecutors said.

The company falsely identified the goods’ destination to US Customs and Border Protection, told a government cooperator to lie to US authorities about the shipments, and had workers make up fake invoices, prosecutors said.

Habibion faces as long as five years in prison and a $1m fine at sentencing, set for May 16. 

Habibion and his company agreed to forfeit $1.9m, prosecutors said. 

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