You sign up for a cell phone plan. You get a free cell phone. You immediately cancel the contract. The phone? You keep.
The free phone deal that five friends allegedly concocted wasn't legal, but it was lucrative. Charges filed by the Dakota County Attorney's office allege that the suspected gang of cell phone bandits used numerous social security numbers to rob Target stores and T-Mobile of more than 300 phones — valued, by police estimate, at $43,000.
Apple Valley police investigating the case said that during a two-month period last year, the ring hit 62 Target stores, most of them in the metro. Stores in Apple Valley and Burnsville were among those hit.
Four of the five suspects were charged by summons last week with theft by aggravating and theft by swindle. A fifth suspect is named in each of the criminal complaints but has not been charged.
Stephen Khi, 34, of Prior Lake, is accused of amassing 194 phones, at a value of $27,000.
Sokunthea Khi, 27, of Shakopee, allegedly took 45 phones, valued at just under $6,000.
Kanan Mustafa, 39, of Burnsville, allegedly pocketed 32 phones, valued at nearly $5,000.
Jamal Mustafa, 37, of Burnsville, is accused of taking four phones, at $540.
According to charges, Kanan Mustafa was associated with a market in St. Paul that housed a wireless communications business, and Stephen Khi worked for a wireless business in Bloomington.
A separate criminal case against Kanan Mustafa is still in the courts.
In November, the Dakota County Attorney's office charged him with I.D. theft and theft by check after a former business partner accused him of stealing $20,000 from a bank line of credit account.
Interviewed by Rosemount police, Kanan Mustafa allegedly admitting to having a gambling problem, according to charges filed at the time.
Working phone numbers for the five suspects could not be located on Friday.