Chinese Nationals Convicted in Counterfeit iPhone Scam

Two Chinese nationals are facing a maximum of 20 years in prison after being convicted of mailing thousands of fake iPhones to Apple for repair in the hope they'd be replaced with new handsets.


The Scam

Two Chinese nationals, Haotian Sun and Pengfei Xue, have been found guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud after mailing thousands of counterfeit iPhones to Apple between 2017 and 2019. The duo aimed to take advantage of Apple's warranty program, which allows users to exchange malfunctioning devices for new ones.

Sun and Xue, along with other co-conspirators, sent the fake iPhones to Apple for repair, hoping to receive genuine replacement iPhones in return. The counterfeit phones had been imported from Hong Kong and were shipped to Apple stores and Authorized Resellers with forged serial numbers and IMEI numbers.

The Investigation and Arrests

In 2017, Haotian Sun opened eight UPS Store mailboxes in the DC Metropolitan area using his Maryland driver's license and university identification card. Sun and Xue were eventually arrested in December 2019 by U.S. postal inspectors.

The Department of Justice estimates that the scheme attempted to cause a loss of over $3 million to Apple.

Sentencing and Previous Scams

Haotian Sun and Pengfei Xue are scheduled to be sentenced on June 21. The maximum prison sentence for their crimes is 20 years each.

This is not the first time individuals have attempted to defraud Apple using counterfeit iPhones. In 2019, several people were indicted in California for tricking Apple into accepting nearly 10,000 counterfeit smartphones and iPads in exchange for legitimate devices.