‘Sophisticated’ iPhone scam involving fake phones results in conviction

A scam that defrauded Apple of millions of dollars worth of iPhones has led to the conviction of two perpetrators, and each of them faces up to 20 years in prison.

Haotian Sun, 33, and Pengfei Xue, 33, both Chinese citizens, were found guilty by a federal jury on Tuesday of participating in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia described as a “sophisticated” scheme to trick Apple into substituting counterfeit products. mobile phones with genuine articles.

Between May 2017 and September 2019, Sun, Xue, and other conspirators shipped more than 5,000 counterfeit iPhones to Apple, claiming that the iPhones needed repair. This prompted the company to swap it out for a real iPhone as a replacement, and the ruse potentially cost Apple around $3 million.

“Sun and Xue received shipments of inauthentic iPhones from Hong Kong in UPS mailboxes throughout the DC Metropolitan area,” the Prosecutor’s Office explain. “They then submit counterfeit iPhones, with fake serial numbers and/or IMEI numbers, to Apple retail stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers.”

Sun, of Baltimore, and Xue, of Germantown, Maryland, used various aliases during the scheme before being arrested in December 2019.

Both have now been found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud, and the pair will be sentenced in June.

But this isn’t the first time Apple has fallen for this kind of scam, as the company has been the target of similar scams several times in recent years.

In October 2019, for example, there was a student from China imprisoned for three years after defrauding Apple out of nearly $1 million when it shipped a genuine iPhone to replace a fake iPhone that the perpetrators said wouldn’t turn on. The crime came to light after customs officers opened a number of suspicious packages from Hong Kong and discovered that they appeared to contain counterfeit Apple phones.

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