| Cult of Mac

How Apple uses US Customs and Border Protection to bust bogus AirPods


Not exactly authentic AirPods.
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

When you think about the types of items typically seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you might picture contraband like drugs or weapons. You probably don’t imagine knockoff AirPods as a target.

In fact, bogus earbuds are a big deal. Customs and Border Protection seized “roughly 360,000 counterfeit wireless headphones with a retail value of $62.2 million” since October, according to a story in The Information, citing previously unreported government data.

Apple is one several predominantly larger companies that work with Customs officers to help weed out copycat products upon their entry into the United States. And the counterfeit goods are not necessarily packaged to look exactly like actual Apple products. Here’s how it works.

US Customs seize 36,000 ‘fake AirPods’


Fake AirPods
AirPods on a budget.
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati have seized what they claim are “tens of thousands of earbuds” that appear to be AirPods knockoffs. Three large shipments of “fake AirPods” from China were discovered, bound for an address in Dayton, Kentucky.

Each case had a declared value of $5,280, and contained 12,000 earbuds. Had they been legit AirPods, the total 36,000 units would have been valued at $7.16 million at retail price.

Customs officials stop import of $4,000 of counterfeit AirPods


AirPods 2. AirPods S, more like.
AirPods are one of Apple's most popular products.
Photo: Apple

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers recently seized a shipment of counterfeit AirPods coming from China, carrying a retail price (at least, if they were authentic) of $3,975.

Officers discovered the shipment of AirPod knockoffs June 1. The packaging said the parcel contained lithium ion batteries. However, officers inspecting the package reportedly grew suspicious because of giveaways with the packaging and marking used on the shipment.

Fake iPhone scam costs Apple nearly $900,000


Can you identify the iPhone clone? (The fake is on the right.)
Can you identify the iPhone clone? (The fake is on the right.)
Photo: Gabe Trumbo/MyPhones Unlimited

Federal agents recently busted two college students who allegedly made nearly $1 million by returning fake iPhones to Apple.

Officials charged Quran Juan and Yangyangg Zhou, both Chinese nationals attending college in Oregon, with participating in a counterfeit iPhone scam. The duo reportedly submitted more than 2,000 iPhones to Apple claiming, the devices were broken and wouldn’t power on. The fake iPhones were only worth about $30, allowing the scammers to pocket nearly $600 for each successful return, authorities said.

How to spot a fake Lightning cable


Use the cable that came with your iPhone as a reference to spot fake Lightning cables.
Use the cable that came with your iPhone as a reference to spot fakes.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Who cares if that cheap charging cable you buy is a fake? It’s just a cable, right? Maybe, maybe not. A fake Lightning cable could contain malware, for instance. Or it could be miswired, damaging your iPhone the way a miswired USB power cable can destroy a laptop computer.

The best case is that your device may not sync or charge. The worst case is that your iPhone could get damaged, or the cable could overheat and set fire to your home while you sleep. Here’s how to make sure a Lightning cable is legit.

You can already buy an ‘iPhone SE’ in China


Is that really the iPhone SE?
Is that really the iPhone SE?
Photo: Nick Beeep

The iPhone SE isn’t an official Apple product yet, but if you’re lucky enough to live in Shenzhen, China, you can already get your hands on a new 4-inch iPhone that looks like the love child of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s.

Small shops at the infamous Huaqiangbei market are selling the closest thing to a real iPhone SE. In a new video claiming to spot an alleged iPhone SE in the wild, a Chinese YouTuber shows just how easy it is to roam the corridors of China’s “Silicon Valley of Hardware” and buy the new iPhone before it’s even been announced.

See for yourself:

Selfie stick iPhone case gets counterfeited before it even exists


Stikbox selfie stick case CES 2016
Stikbox founder Yekutiel Sherman shows off his only working prototype of the selfie stick iPhone case.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac CES 2016 full coverage LAS VEGAS — You know your product’s hot when Chinese ripoff artists start selling knockoffs before your first unit rolls off the production line.

That’s the “flattering” situation the makers of Stikbox, the world’s “first” selfie stick case for iPhone and Samsung, find themselves in as they demo their only aluminum prototype on the CES show floor here. Stikbox’s Kickstarter campaign launched just two weeks ago, and the unique case hasn’t even been officially manufactured, yet already dozens of clones have popped up online.

“It just goes on,” Stikbox founder Yekutiel Sherman said as he scrolled through listing after listing of Chinese manufacturers selling Stikbox clones on Taobao, an e-commerce site owned by Alibaba Group. “Endless, endless,” he said, a mix of shock and dismay in his voice.