Yangyang Zhou and Quan Jiang are two Chinese engineering students accused of cheating more than half a million euros from Apple. Both lived in Oregon (USA) with a student visa when the fraud was developed. From there, they sent the Cupertino company for months thousands of iPhones false claiming that they were defective and under warranty. Apple, after reviewing them, changed 1,493 of these phones for new terminals. But the two young men were finally discovered. Now they face federal charges for a scam to the technological giant in the amount of 895,800 dollars -about 800,000 euros-, according to the newspaper The Oregonian.
Once the company changed the fake iPhones for originals, Zhou and Jiang sent authentic terminals to China to be sold, according to the criminal complaint of the case. Jiang's mother made benefit transfers to her son's bank account in the United States. Jiang has been accused of trafficking in counterfeit goods and electronic fraud while Zhou faces charges for using false information in export documents. In their defense, both have stated that they did not know that the phones they delivered to Apple's technical service were false.
For almost a year, the students imported thousands of imitations of the terminal to the United States. They received from Hong Kong packages with a score of devices with the same physical characteristics as the original iPhones. Then, they asked Apple to check the phones. In most cases, as explained in the cited document, they presented a claim to the technical service complaining that the terminals did not turn on. When this happens, it is usual for the company to replace the terminal with a new one.
"The presentation of an iPhone that does not turn on is essential to perpetuate fraud in the iPhone warranty, since the phone can not be examined or repaired immediately by Apple technicians, which will cause the process of replacing Apple phones as part of its product warranty policy, "Apple worker Adrian Punderson told agent Thomas Duffy, as they collect the same documents.
Of the 3,069 repair requests made by Zhou between April 2017 and March 2018, Apple accepted 1,493. The company returned the rest of the devices to the young people because they considered that they had been manipulated and, therefore, the guarantee was no longer valid. Punderson said that a technician of the company is responsible for checking whether a phone sent to review is original or not. But in none of the cases the technicians were able to realize that the terminals were not the official ones.
Both young people were amassing their fortune until federal agents of Customs and Border Protection (CBP, for its acronym in English) confiscated in April 2017 five packages sent from Hong Kong suspecting that they contained fake phones. The recipients of this shipment were precisely the two Chinese students.
Agent Thomas Duffy interviewed Jiang in the city of Portland in late 2017 to learn about the origin and destination of mobiles. The young man acknowledged sending thousands of terminals to Apple, but said he did not know that the phones were fake. Jiang estimated that during 2017 he sent 2,000 phones to Apple for warranty repairs, according to the documents cited. Without, however, the figure was quite greater: made a total of 3,069 applications.
In 2018 the authorities inspected Jiang's home and found 300 phony iPhones and documents of warranty requests sent to Apple. They also found boxes that had the name Zhou written on them. Now Jiang can face a fine of up to two million dollars and up to 10 years in prison for counterfeiting and another unspecified fine and up to 20 additional years for electronic fraud. Meanwhile, Zhou, accused of sending false information in the export declaration, can be fined up to $ 10,000 and up to five years in prison.