iPhone fraudsters facing jail after robbing Apple of $3M


Two Chinese nationals are facing up to 20 years in jail in the US after being found guilty of stealing 5,000 Apple iPhones worth $3 million by exchanging them for fakes.

The cunning duo, Haotian Sun, 35, and Pengfui Xue, 33, both residing in Maryland, used counterfeit handsets to exchange with Apple for genuine articles, claiming the ‘originals’ were broken and in need of repair.

“Sun and Xue received shipments of inauthentic iPhones from Hong Kong at UPS mailboxes throughout the DC Metropolitan area,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the verdict. “They then submitted the fake iPhones, with spoofed serial numbers and/or IMEI numbers, to Apple retail stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers.”

IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity and is a unique 15-digit number used to check a device’s origin. It’s not clear whether the ploy was clever enough to fool Apple employees, or if Sun and Xue simply made off with the exchanged genuine handsets before the IMEI could be checked.

The pair’s fraud campaign took place between 2017 and 2019, during which time Sun opened eight UPS store mailboxes using his Maryland driver’s license and university identification card.

However, US postal inspectors caught up to their crimes at the end of that period, arresting Sun and Xue and bringing them to trial at a federal court in the District of Columbia.

The two will be sentenced on June 21st and could each get up to two decades behind bars for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.


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