Fake university uses Apple Store pics to lure unsuspecting students

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A cookie to the first person who spots the obvious Photoshopping. Photo:
A cookie to the first person who spots the obvious Photoshopping. Photo: Suwen University of Hong Kong

Move over Xiaomi! While it’s easy to claim that China’s biggest smartphone upstart holds the crown for boldest Apple ripoff artist, Xiaomi has nothing on the Suwen University of Hong Kong.

If you haven’t heard of Suwen University, don’t worry: You’re not alone. It’s a fake, selling false diplomas and bachelor’s degrees online through China’s largest shopping website, the Alibaba-owned Taobao.

So what makes this a story about Apple? Well, take a look at the university’s impressive computer science lab, as it appeared in photos posted to the fictitious university’s Facebook page. For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, it’s a photo of the city’s flagship Apple Store — albeit with a dodgy, Photoshopped logo to replace the instantly recognizable Apple one.

The Apple Store as it actually appears. You can buy iPhones, iPads and Macs here -- just no degrees. Photo: Kiwigoingnowhereslow
The Apple Store as it actually appears. You can buy iPhones, iPads and Macs here — just no degrees. Photo: Kiwigoingnowhereslow

The Apple Store in question was opened in September 2011, and was the first to arrive in Hong Kong. Located at the high-end International Financial Center Mall, the retail outlet is two stories high, with a gorgeous, winding glass staircase. At the time, it was Apple’s most expensive store ever, with construction costing an estimated $20 million.

Boasting plenty of space and stunning views over Hong Kong, the building would have the makings for one of the best computer science buildings in any university anywhere — were it not for the tiny fact that it belongs to Apple.

While picking such an instantly recognizable building may seem a brazen move for Suwen University (a bit like me claiming I’m off to spend the weekend in my giant glass cube Fifth Avenue holiday home), that’s not the only piece of fakery it engaged in.

The website also showed a picture of its faculty and happy students — which turned out to be a photo of (the real) Chinese University of Hong Kong Vice Chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, accompanied by some international learners.

In all, the Suwen scandal highlights one of the major problems faced by Taobao: It’s growing too fast and allowing unauthorized businesses to spring up and hawk fake merchandise. According to reports, a team of 5,000 people are hired to carry out product-authenticity checks — although with 1.2 billion products to go through, it’s no wonder a few things would slip through the cracks.

Even when they happen to be the size of Apple Stores.

Source: The Standard.com.hk

Thanks: Seung-Ha