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.
The students didn't even make an effort with their fake names, successfully getting a new iPhone issued to, ugh, Mr. Apache Helicopter. Although they at least recruited accomplices, targeted different stores, and used Apple's mail-in repair program, dashing our hopes that they just made hundreds of visits to the same store while wearing increasingly ludicrous disguises. The best part is that Apple never noticed they were fake, as the scheme was only foiled when US Customs seized one of their shipments. Both scammers were arrested in mid-2019 and presumably claimed to just be very addicted to Candy Crush.
Amazon Paid Out $370,000 For Boxes Of Dirt
As a retail behemoth, Amazon naturally has a generous return policy (they compensate for their losses by paying their drivers in beatings). This was great news for James Kwarteng, who made over $370,000 selling them boxes of dirt. That's right, he was such a great thief that he stole both Amazon's money and Loot Crate's business model.
Kwarteng realized that Amazon doesn't check inside returned packages if nothing about them appears unusual. At any given moment half the employees in an Amazon shipping center are launching human wave attacks on the only working bathroom, the other half have collapsed from kwashiorkor, a pile of cheap Malaysian sex toys has burst into flames, and the assistant manager is being strapped into an experimental Mars rocket while they scream at Jeff Bezos to reconsider. If you think anyone has time to "open boxes," then you just don't understand how to run a business.