back to article Duo face 20 years in prison over counterfeit iPhone scam

Two Chinese nationals are facing a maximum of 20 years in prison after being convicted of mailing thousands of fake iPhones to Apple for repair in the hope they'd be replaced with new handsets. This is according to the Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia following the decision by a federal jury to convict Maryland …

  1. parrot


    Reminds me of the Walkers crisp competition where you could win an iPhone if you found a fake iPhone in a crisp packet. People were sending in fake iPhones they already had but the Walkers ones were unique so it didn’t work.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Phoney

      How could you not know you've bought a bag with a phone in it, are Walker's crisps especially heavy?

  2. Rol

    Reminds me of the Lewinski competition where you could send in a dress stained with the presidents love juice that you had left hanging in your closet for years and get a whopping cash prize. Hundreds of dresses got sent in, but it appears the president had used donor liquid on most of those occasions.

  3. aerogems Silver badge

    Wrong company

    Apple is insanely anal about tracking things. Individual components within a device have their own unique serial numbers,, which are associated with the main device serial number, so any time things don't match up, it'll get flagged. I'm just surprised it took as long as it did for someone to notice. Probably a result of Apple outsourcing a lot of their iDevice repair work to Foxconn. I think maybe in recent years it may have changed, but for the longest time, the only "repair" parts AASPs could get from Apple for an iDevice was a SIM removal tool (the little thing you poke into the hole to pop the card out). You had to ship them to Foxconn (not that Apple would make it easy to figure out it was a third party doing the work) who would usually just buy parts in bulk and then swap them out. When you do a repair on Apple shit, you have to enter in the SN of the individual component(s) you're replacing and if it doesn't match up with their records, it's a whole mess to sort.

    Tangent: What always annoyed me when I was working for an AASP, is that Foxconn got to play by a different set of rules. They could do things we couldn't, and Apple also used them to hide defects in new products. Like when the wedge shaped MacBook Air came out, there were massive failures with the GPU, so Apple restricted the ability to get logic boards to Foxconn only. I managed to get one replacement board before the number of repairs must've crossed some internal threshold and they restricted it to Foxconn facilities only.

    1. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: Wrong company

      Weren't Foxconn also the company who had a 'fourth' shift which assembled iPhones from the parts reject bins purely for the Chinese market and sold at competitive prices?

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Wrong company

        Entirely possible. Ghost shifts have been a staple of Chinese manufacturing for a very long time. Probably half the shit you see for sale on sites like Ali Express are made that way. There have also been cases where people were charged with selling stuff they basically went dumpster diving for, like I remember one person selling AMD CPUs that had failed QA testing. I'm always equal parts impressed, amazed, and horrified at some of the things these Chinese people come up with. They seem to have learned the lessons of capitalism better than those of us who have lived in societies that have been ostensibly capitalist for generations, for both better and worse.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Wrong company

          "I'm always equal parts impressed, amazed, and horrified at some of the things these Chinese people come up with."

          These aren't new things. I recall a scam reported in Japan in ~1978, where failed 4 kilobit memory chips sold to be used as dummies(*) for a handheld game were relabelled and sold on - they were out of spec but mostly still worked

          Going back another century, fake parts were a big problem coming out of the USA

          (*) non-functional but fitted for cosmetic purposes

  4. Youngone Silver badge

    A bit harsh?

    20 years seems a bit harsh to me.

    I'm happy they should be punished, fraud is fraud, but 20 years seems a bit over the top.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: A bit harsh?

      They probably won't get that. Maximum sentences are rarely given unless it's an extreme offense or the criminals concerned have done this many times before. People charged with this who stole orders of magnitude more don't get that sentence, so I doubt these guys will either.

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: A bit harsh?

      20 years is the threat used to get people to plead guilty. The court system mostly lacks the funding to actually have trials for offenses like this.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: A bit harsh?

      Sounds like the guy who still owes Nintendo $14m after getting sent to prison. Some judges really do go the extra mile for their corporate overlords.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bit harsh?

      Hi, I'm on the other side of the fence. It was to lenient in my eyes.

      I don't believe in prisons, or letting criminals with bad motives live. (stealing food to eat, is not the same - that person needs help)

      Give me down votes, but the world would be a better place without (thieves, dirty politicians, criminal executives, rapist and much more) the worst of humans.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: A bit harsh?

        I don't believe in [...] letting criminals with bad motives live.

        Yes, the world would be a better place without people like you.

    5. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: A bit harsh?

      20 years for 5000 iPhonys. Maybe they will be allowed to serve the sentences concurrently and be out in 1.46 days.

  5. rgjnk

    Criminal geniuses

    Apart from targeting a company that's a bit thorough at tracking things, doing it at a scale that even a major corporation was likely to notice, and using their own ID to set things up it's difficult to spot quite where it all went wrong...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Criminal geniuses

      If criminals are smart enough to not get caught, they have the smarts to operate a sucessful genuine company and make even more money (or establish a religion, where the marks willingly hand over money and aggressively defend the scammers)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This should have ended at the…

    “Hey, how about we….” stage.

    1. TVU Silver badge

      Re: This should have ended at the…

      "This should have ended at the…“Hey, how about we….” stage"

      Exactly, and these two are not the brightest bulbs in the sockets because if they'd thought this through then it might have dawned on them that the company that actually makes these products just might be able to tell them from poor fakes. D'oh, as Homer Simpson would say.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: This should have ended at the…

        I'd hazard a guess that they thought some Apple operative just opened the packet, took the details down for replacement and threw the old phone in a bin.

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