Apple is one of the most valuable companies on the planet, but it didn’t reach the pinnacle of consumer tech by allowing itself to be scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A pair of college students in Oregon learned that the hard way after they managed to bleed the tech giant for nearly a million dollars before being nabbed by authorities.
According to reports, Quan Jiang and Yangyangg Zhou, both foreign students on U.S. visas, were receiving shipments of counterfeit iPhone knockoffs from China. Once they received the fake smartphones — which were apparently close enough to the real thing for Apple not to immediately notice — the duo returned them to Apple, requesting replacements.
Somehow, this scam worked, at least for a while.
Authorities claim the two scammers sent in over 2,000 fake iPhones to Apple claiming that they were defective. The company denied some of the claims but fulfilled others, sending the two students over 1,400 genuine iPhones to replace the “defective” fake units. The total cost to Apple is estimated at around $900,000.
The fake iPhones, which were apparently only around $30 each, flew under Apple’s radar for some time, but the company and customs officials finally caught on to the scam. When authorities raided the home of Zhou they discovered over 300 of the knockoff smartphones, and both are now facing a laundry list of criminal charges.
The two men will face charges including trafficking knockoff goods, fraudulent customs declarations, and wire fraud. However, Zhou’s attorney claims that his client had no knowledge of the scam at all, and that Jiang was the mastermind of the scam. With 300 fake iPhones in his home, it’s hard to see how anyone could claim such a thing but we’ll have to see how the case pans out before knowing the truth.