Two Students Made $900,000 Sending Fake iPhones To Apple
Selling counterfeit iPhones is a difficult business. You have to make a working phone that looks like an iPhone, find unsuspecting customers, and not get arrested. At some point you'll be cowering in a Congolese coltan mining camp, taking heavy fire from Apple's copyright enforcement tanks, and realize it would be easier to just start an actual phone company. But what if the phone didn't need to work, and your only customer was Apple itself?
That's the scheme pioneered by two engineering students, who imported non-functional fake iPhones from China and used them to hoodwink Apple out of nearly $900,000. They would go to Apple under fake names, claim their brand new, warranty-protected iPhone wouldn't turn on, then hand over the cheap bricks. Without power, Apple employees couldn't immediately tell if the phones were under warranty or even real. So they'd just issue a new replacement phone, no proof of purchase needed.
They successfully did this 1,493 times, sending the new phones back to China to be resold. Apple rejected another 1,500ish claims, but not because the phones were fake. They claimed the phones had been tampered with and therefore weren't covered under warranty, then sent the fakes right back to the scammers, leaving them free to try again.
Esther Purple/ShutterstockWhich makes us awfully suspicious of how tethered to reality a voided warranty actually is.