Batches of stolen iPhones snagged during the “Great iPhone Heist” in Belgium earlier this month are showing up on the Russian black market.
Two weeks ago, thieves made off with 3,000-4,000 iPhone 3GS from a Belgian warehouse belonging to wireless carrier Mobistar. The haul was valued at $3 million. Now the stolen iPhones are being offered to cell-phone vendors in Russia.
The stolen iPhones, known as “Europeans,” are being offered in batches of 100 at knockdown prices. There are no installment plans or credit deals — cash only.
The Russian website, iPhones.ru, (Google translation), reports:
“Today, several vendors with a forum reported that they call the unknown people and offer at knockdown prices to buy officially unlocked “Europeans”. The minimum party is from 100 units in one-time payment without there installments or implementations. The owner of a shop at Gorbushka, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the windows of the market has already started to appear Belgian phones.”
The iPhone is not officially on sale in Russia, although there is a healthy trade in unlocked iPhones from other countries. I personally sold a pair of original iPhones to a guy who resells them in Ukraine for a hefty profit.
Russian vendors are wary of the knockoff iPhones, however. The case involves Interpol, the international police agency, which has all the serial numbers and can easily confiscate stock during inspections.
Vendors are also worried that Interpol may also ask local wireless carriers to block the phones based on their International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) numbers. They don’t want to deal with irate customers whose iPhones suddenly stop working.
However, not everyone is wise to the situation, says iPhones.ru. “But those wholesalers who are not aware of news, enjoy and spread coin.”
The site advises Russian customers to check their iPhone carefully to make sure it’s not a “European.”
“… go to Settings -> General -> About your device and see what is recorded in a graph model. If the last two characters of NF, before you mobistarovsky ayfon. Ask him to be replaced by another, so as not to sit in the New Year off with a pipe.”