Inside Apple’s billion-dollar war on repair fraud

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Cult of Mac's buyback program pays good money for your gear, even broken ones.
Chinese iPhone fraud involved removing components from devices then deliberately breaking them so Apple would replace the handset.
Photo: Warren R.M. Stuart/Flickr CC

Fraudulent iPhone repair claims are big business in China. To the point where about 60 percent of the handsets being repaired under warranty in that country were part of scams.

Apple has had to make draconian efforts to even slow the rate at which Chinese criminal gangs are stealing from it.

Palo Alto Apple Store robbed twice in less than 12 hours

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Tim Cook
Tim Cook recently showed up at the Palo Alto Apple Store to greet customers.
Photo: CNBC

The Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto was robbed twice in 12 hours over the weekend, as the Californian Apple Store crime spree continues.

In the first instance, a gang of eight males entered the store after 7pm on Saturday, and began snatching iPhones and other devices, before fleeing in multiple vehicles. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the store’s glass doors were then shattered with rocks, and more products were taken.

Apple Store robbery suspect caught by security

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Apple Store Santa Rosa Plaza1
The location of the Apple Store in question.
Photo: Apple

The string of Apple Store robberies in California continued over the weekend — but, on this occasion, everything didn’t go quite as planned for the thieves.

As is becoming routine at this point, a gang of thieves (six in this case) ran into an Apple Store in California’s Santa Rosa Plaza shopping center, and started snatching devices from the stands. However, while five got away with their stolen goods, one was tackled to the ground by mall security and two good samaritans.

Grab-and-run thieves plague multiple Apple Stores

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Thieves grab MacBooks from an Apple Store
Two brazen thieves grabbed thousands of dollars worth of MacBooks from a California Apple Store.
Screenshot: CBS New York/Apple

Four teens in hoodies brazenly snatched a bunch of MacBooks and iPhones from an Apple Store in California this weekend. The crime is very similar to one committed in New York last week.

The brazen thefts took place so close together it’s not impossible the second was inspired by the first.

Hacker hacks iPhone hacking company’s secret hacks

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iphone
They say turnabout is fair play, but iPhone users are caught in the middle when iOS hacking tools are stolen.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Israel’s NSO Group makes a business of hacking iPhones and Android devices.  In a reversal of roles, it was hacked by one of its own employees and valuable intellectual property was stolen.

While its tempting to lean back an enjoy this company’s discomfiture, the stolen property was NSO’s phone hacking tools, which were then offered on the dark web.

iPhone X scalper gets in violent scrape

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iPhone X theft
This LetGo app ad for an iPhone X attracted a would-be thief in Georgia.
Photo: WSB-TV

Another new iPhone is on the streets and it’s the type of event when police brace themselves for a spike in thefts and assaults. So it was only a matter of time before the iPhone X would work its way into a crime news headline.

A man in Georgia suffered a broken collarbone after wrestling with a thief who ran off with an iPhone X he was trying to resell.

PC World worker charged with stealing $30,000 of Apple gear

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MacBook Pro
MacBooks were among the stolen items.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

An employee of PC World, a U.K.-based computer superstore, has admitted to stealing 27,000 euros ($30,000) worth of Apple products from his workplace. Oh, the irony!

21-year-old Eoin Giles of Dublin, Ireland, pleaded guilty to stealing 21 MacBooks, six Apple Watches, and seven iPads Pros, and then selling them on. Giles described it as a “stupid” attempt to make money.

Palo Alto Apple store targeted by ‘ram-raider’ thieves

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apple store
Not the correct place to park your car.
Photo: Apple

The Apple store in Palo Alto, California, suffered a brazen attack when a group of thieves in a rented SUV “ram-raided” the store early Sunday morning.

The burglars drove their vehicle at high speed into the 40-foot glass window at the front of the store, then climbed through the hole it had made. They stole iPhones, Macs and other devices before fleeing.

New York district attorney calls for federal law to unlock seized iPhones

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iPhone 7 back
Law enforcement officials still want Apple to hack the iPhone.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants the Trump administration to help create federal legislation requiring Apple and Google to remove default encryption from their smartphones.

The recommendation comes from the DA office’s second report on Smartphone Encryption and Public Safety, presented by Vance at the opening of the Manhattan DA’s new cyberlab. New York County is currently sitting on 423 iPhones it can’t break into, even with a warrant, so the DA’s office is pushing for change.