Five men arrested after ripping off Apple for $12 million by exchanging fake iPhones for real ones

A criminal ring involved in ripping off Apple for $12.3 millionĀ has been busted leading to the arrests of five men who now face serious prison time. The men brought 16,000 counterfeit iPhone and iPad units to various Apple Store locations and the fake devices were so realistic looking that the Apple Store employees would exchange them for real iPhone and iPad units.

The fake iPhone and iPad devices were non-functional and after they were exchanged by Apple Store employees for real iPhones and iPads, the genuine Apple products were shipped out of the country. United States Attorney Martin Estrada said, “The defendants are accused of taking advantage of Apple’s customer-service policies to steal more than $12 million in merchandise. Companies should not be victimized and defrauded for being responsive to customer needs, and these federal charges send a message that our office will take decisive action to uncover and prosecute those who perpetrate fraud.”

The five men, all Chinese nationals, were taken into custody this past Thursday. Yang Song, Junwei Jiang, Zhengxuan Hu, Yushan Lin, and Shuyi Xing will face charges of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. The accused face 20 years in prison for each of the conspiracy to commit fraud charges, and up to two years in prison for identity theft. If found guilty of conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, the five could each end up facing 10 years in prison.

To make this plan work, the five conspired with other members of the ring located in China to have the non-working counterfeit iPhone and iPad units shipped to various locations in southern California. You’re probably wondering how this scam wasn’t caught by Apple Store employees. The fake devices had identification numbers matching real Apple products owned by U.S. consumers that are still under warranty.

The defendants returned the fake devices to more than 10 Apple Stores in southern California including those in areas such as Beverly Hills, Northridge, and Rancho Cucamonga. On some days, the ring would visit more than 10 southern California Apple Stores in order to swap out the fake models for real ones.

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