Swiss man gets jail time for fake iPhone warranty scam

A resident of Aargau in Switzerland has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail for fraud relating to fraudulent claims under Apple’s iPhone warranty scheme.

The 34-year-old man and his mother – both Chinese citizens – exploited Apple’s Applecare+ warranty system, which allows defective iPhones to be replaced with a new model even if the damage has been caused by the owner of the device.

The unidentified man – who has lived in Switzerland for two decades – was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for commercial fraud and trademark infringement, and will be banned from Switzerland for seven years thereafter. He was found guilty of buying cheap copycat iPhones from China and swapping them for around 111,000 new authentic originals.

His mother (56) received a suspended 18-month prison sentence. The pair generally claimed that the phones they were returning had suffered water damage and could not turn on, and travelled around Switzerland to carry out the scam.

Apple claims it lost more than CHF 1m ($1.1m) as a result of the scam, which mirrors a notorious case in the US last year, which also resulted in a three-year jail term for the main perpetrator.

The court heard that the main defendant earned just CHF 10,000 from the fraud, and was a small but important part of a network which prosecutors believe is based in Hong Kong.

The mother and son sent the genuine handsets they received from Apple to Hong Kong, getting just CHF 10 as commission on each device. They claimed they were unaware that the iPhones they exchanged were fake.

The illicit activity was discovered after a shipment of 50 counterfeit iPhones was intercepted by Swiss customs.

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