This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Across Switzerland and Hong Kong, it has been reported that the paid warranty service AppleCare+ was abused to trick more than 1,000 fake iPhones into replacing them with the real ones.
According to the Swiss website SRF, the alleged suspects are a 34-year-old Chinese man and his 56-year-old mother. The son is expected to be sentenced to four years in prison as well as deported from Switzerland, where he has lived for nearly 20 years.
The modus operandi is to take a fake iPhone that purports to be faulty to an Apple store and have it replaced with a new one under the AppleCare+ warranty. The fake iPhones had been given same IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is assigned to the phone) numbers matching those of genuine iPhones with an AppleCare+ policy in place. The same practice has been used before by Chinese students who brought fake iPhones to the United States.
However, that doesn't mean that all iPhones that are brought in for repair are replaced. What's really clever about this method is that it pretends to be submerged and won't turn on. In these situations, the battery could catch fire, so no further investigation will be done in the store. So, it was determined to be accidental damage, which is covered under the AppleCare+ warranty, and was replaced with a new one. The scammer pays only 99 Swiss francs for each unit.
The son's scam involved more than 1,000 units and the mother had 100 units. However, they are not the main culprit, though, and there was another main culprit who sent the fake iPhones from Hong Kong, and the mother and son also testified that they were acting as pawns in the scam. It was stated that a "fee" of 10 Swiss francs (about ¥1,150) was paid for each genuine iPhone sent to Hong Kong, which was exchanged at an Apple store in Switzerland.
The two defendants claim that they did not know they were fake iPhones and thought they were sending them to be repaired on behalf of an acquaintance who had difficulty getting Apple's services in Hong Kong.
The scam was first exposed when Swiss customs officials examined a shipment of 50 iPhones that turned out to be fake. How the customs officials were able to spot the fake which even the staff at the Apple store thought was genuine is a mystery, but it may come to light during the trial.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.