Pa. Man Charged in SonicWall Warranty Scam

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Posted 2009-06-30 Email Print this article Print


A federal grand jury has charged Thomas J. Kline with five counts of mail fraud for a scheme that used fraudulent serial numbers to make warranty claims to obtain new security appliances.

A federal grand jury indicted a Pennsylvania man with five counts of mail fraud for allegedly obtaining SonicWall security appliances through a warranty scam and attempting to sell them on eBay.

Thomas J. Kline, 66, of Mount Pleasant, Pa., was formally indicted June 24. According to federal authorities, Kline registered hundreds of serial numbers to SonicWall devices he didn’t own and then made tech support and warranty claims against them. Under SonicWall’s policy, it ships new devices to the customer to prevent a lapse in security.

Under normal circumstances, a customer making a maintenance or warranty claim for a defective or troublesome device would return the equipment following receipt of the replacement hardware. Kline, however, reportedly tried to sell his new SonicWall equipment on eBay.

Kline allegedly conducted his scheme against SonicWall over a four-year period, January 2005 to January 2009. The indictment gives no indication where he obtained the serial numbers he registered with SonicWall, how many devices were obtained and whether he was able to sell any devices on eBay.

If convicted, Kline could face 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus potential restitution costs to SonicWall.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.


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