Students accused of cheating Apple with fake iPhones

Two Oregon college students have been accused of fraudulently submitting thousands of repair requests to Apple using counterfeit iPhones.

The two students allegedly sent Apple fake phones, claiming they were faulty, and received brand authentic new or factory refurbished models as replacements under the company’s warranty and repair process, netting almost $900,000 in illicit gains.

After getting the genuine phones, the pair arranged for them to be sold on, making hundreds of dollars per unit and splitting the proceeds, say prosecutors in their legal complaint.

The students – Yangyang Zhou and Quan Jiang – are both Chinese citizens and are suspected to shipping thousands of counterfeit iPhones from an accomplice in China.

The complaint says the fakes were submitted to Apple with a complaint that they would not turn out, saying this was a critical element in the fraud as they would not be immediately examined or repaired by Apple technicians, who might spot the deception, and would trigger the phone replacement process as part of Apple’s warranty policy.

That so many phones went through the warranty process is a clear indicator of how skilled counterfeiters have become in copy electronic products. According to Apple records, of the 3,069 warranty claims submitted by Jiang, almost 1,500 resulted in a replacement phone being dispatched, with the remainder rejected for tampering.

Jiang and Zhou claim that they were not aware the phones shipped to them, which they submitted for warranty claims, were fake Apple iPhones. Federal prosecutors have charged Jiang with trafficking counterfeit goods and wire fraud, while Zhou is accused of submitting false information on export documentation.

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