Chinese nationals facing prison for fake iPhone repair scam

A federal jury in the US has convicted two Chinese nationals for their part in a sophisticated scheme in which they submitted more than 5,000 counterfeit phones to Apple for repair, costing the tech giant an estimated $3m.

According to court documents, Haotian Sun (33, also known as Hao Sun, Jack Sun, and Frank Sun) of Baltimore, Maryland, and Pengfei Xue (33) of Germantown, Maryland, and co-conspirators submitted fake iPhones to Apple with the aim of getting them exchanged for genuine replacement iPhones.

Sun and Xue received shipments of counterfeit iPhones from Hong Kong at UPS mailboxes throughout the DC Metropolitan area and falsified their serial numbers and/or IMEI numbers to try to fool Apple’s repair staff. Around 2,700 fake iPhones made it through the process and were replaced by Apple.

“In 2017, Sun opened eight UPS Store mailboxes using his Maryland driver’s license and university identification car,” said the US Department of Justice in a statement. “US postal inspectors arrested Sun and Xue in December 2019.”

The jury convicted Sun and Xue of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. They are scheduled to be sentenced on June 21 and each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Two other Chinese nationals have previously been prosecuted in connection with the scam. One of them, Quan Jiang, was sentenced in 2019 to three years and one month of imprisonment by a US district judge after he was found guilty of scamming Apple for approximately $1m. Charges against his co-defendant Yangyang Zhou were subsequently dismissed.

Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

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