Xiaojie Li, a 44-year-old woman living in Newton, Massachusetts, was pinned to the ground and tasered by police on Tuesday when she attempted to buy a few too many iPhones from her local Apple store. Li says she was buying the devices on behalf of relatives in China, and she was carrying $16,000 in cash when police arrested her.
Li first purchased two iPhone 5 handsets last Friday at the store in Nashua’s Pheasant Lane Mall, and Apple staff advised her when she attempted to purchase more that she had reached the two-per-customer limit. Li then began filming other customers on her cellphone in the belief that they had bought more than two units. That’s when Apple staff asked her to leave.
Li did leave, but she returned to the store again on Tuesday to pick up another two iPhone 5 handsets she had reserved online. Staff again refused to sell the handsets to her, and the store manager asked her to leave — a request that Li says she didn’t understand. The manager then asked a police officer within the mall to escort her out.
“The officer approached her, told her she wasn’t welcome in the store, and she refused to leave,” Nashua police captain Bruce Hansen told WCVB TV, who spoke to Li about her arrest. You can see the interview in the video below.
Li claims she was purchasing the devices on behalf of relatives in China, but with $16,000 in cash, it’s possible the devices would’ve ended up on China’s grey market. Apple’s latest iOS devices are big business for gangs of scalpers there, who purchase them for the sole purpose of selling them on at a profit.
It’s a process Apple doesn’t approve of, and it had recently been working to prevent it. It has introduced a reservation system in China that requires customers to order their devices online first before they pick them up at a local Apple store. Only a certain number of devices can be charged to one credit card, and customers must have photo ID when they collect their purchase.
Scalpers have found ways around Apple’s system, however, including employing others to purchase the devices on their behalf, and importing them from other countries.