Five employees working at an official iPhone distributor in China have been arrested after exploiting Apple’s returns policy by exchanging fake iPhone parts for real ones. The group sent 121 fake iPhone 4S BAND parts to have them exchanged for real ones worth around CN¥400,000 ($64,117), which they then used to build and sell fake iPhones.
The scam, which started back in December, was going for more than a month before Apple noticed and took action. But the group went to great lengths to make the fake parts look like real ones; they even had genuine iPhone serial numbers printed onto them in an effort to avoid detection.
The distributor initially denied any wrongdoing, but police suspected that something wasn’t right when they discovered that 118 of the 121 iPhones were activated on the same day, containing the same “C8PJ” identifier in their serial numbers. Police said that there was little chance that so many units of the same device would need repair.
Apple alerted the authorities of the scam in January, but according to reports, the Cupertino company is yet to recover any of the stolen parts. It’s thought that the group will have made a profit of around CN¥1,000 ($161) on every fake iPhone that they sold.