iPhone frauds are not something new. A Chinese mother and son duo carried out an AppleCare+ fraud with the help of fake iPhones. As part of the operation, the fraudsters obtained “Deceptively real-looking iPhones from Hong Kong” and exchanged it with new iPhones as under Apple Care+ program.
The mother and son duo scammed Apple stores and certified shops across Switzerland before being caught. The modus operandi involved submitting real looking iPhones with cloned IMEI number at the Apple Store. The fake phones had IMEI matching those of real iPhones with AppleCare+.
As a policy, Apple Stores don’t open an iPhone if it has water damage. This is due to the possibility that water might cause short-circuit and eventually case a battery fire. Apple Stores checked whether the iPhones were covered under AppleCare+ and replaced the fake devices with genuine iPhones. The scammers had to pay a deductible of CHF 99 ($108).
After obtaining genuine iPhone replacement, the scammers would then ship the replacement units back to Hong Kong. What is shocking is the scale of operation, the son has reportedly scammed Apple repair centres of 1,000 iPhones while the mother has done the same for more than 100.
The whole operation came to light after customs found two packages of counterfeit iPhones. The mother and son were paid a small commission of CHF10 ($10) for each iPhone that was successfully exchanged. Swiss Site SRF reports that the two are just middlemen and other people are involved.
The mother and son duo have claimed that they knew nothing about fake iPhones. They were allegedly convinced that iPhones are being shipped to Switzerland as no service is available in Hong Kong. Both the accused will appear in a court today. Last year a group of scammers used identity theft to successfully steal iPhones worth $19 Million.
The operation seems to be very well conceived as it is not easy to fool Apple Store staff. Fake iPhones are indeed very close to real ones, but trained eyes should be able to figure it out.