Oregon students studied to make $ 900,000 in fake Apple iPhone returns, said feds
A few Oregon students from China have been charged in a fake iPhone return order that allegedly net them nearly a million dollars.
The couple, Yangyang Zhou and Quon Jiang, are alleged to have sent fake iPhones back to Apple and claimed they did not work. When the tech giant sent a new legitimate replacement phone, the couple would sell them to a broker – usually overseas, according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. Pat. District Court in Oregon last month. Both students would get a cut of profits, federal prosecutors claim. All sales were made online.
Zhou was a student at Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon, while Jiang attended Linn Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. Both participated in legal foreign student visas.
Jiang, who took the lead in the scheme, was accused of trading fake goods and filing cheats, according to the documents, while Zhou is facing a charge of making false or misleading claims for an export declaration. Jiang can face as much as 30 years in prison and $ 2 million in fines if convicted. Zhou is facing a $ 1[ads1]0,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison.
The Oregonian was the first to report the scheme.
The survey started two years ago, in April 2017, when the authorities in Portland were tipped for a shipment of counterfeit iPhones by the US Customs and Border Protection, according to the application.
There were 216 guarantee certificates from Zhou, or addresses associated with him, while Jiang's challenging 3,069 warranty claims were filed. The nearly 1,500 successful claims cost Apple a total of $ 895,800, according to the court.
Despite the successes, approx. 1,600 warranty claims rejected by Apple due to suspicion that they were forged or tampered with the filing state.
The two said in an interview with investigators that they would pay friends and family to accept the replacement phones at addresses in China. Even Jiang's mother was involved in the fraudulent scheme, according to investigators.
"Jiang explained that in exchange for his work and efforts, his co-worker in China pays Jiang's mother, who is also a resident of China, who in due time puts the draft into a [bank] account that Jiang can access here in the United States, the court said filing.
Apple never told Jiang iPhones were fake, he said, according to the December 2017 interview quoted in the complaint.
The authorities seized several Apple products from Zhou when he was at San Francisco International Airport and left China in August 2018. The photos on the phone included dozens of small white boxes of Apple product codes and piles of empty cardboard boxes from Apple.
Jiang's lawyer denied comment to The Oregonian, while Zhous's lawyer told the newspaper, "We believe Mr. Zhou will be corrected."