Apple has been taking quite a bit of stick over the last month for its after-sales service practices in China, and perhaps rightfully so. But instead of being exploited by Apple, police have discovered that some Chinese criminals used Apple’s return system to turn more than 100 fake iPhones into real ones.
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The scam saw a Wenzhou Apple shop owner turning in what he claimed were 121 iPhone 4S BAND parts (the core of the phone, worth about $476 each) that were broken and asking that they be replaced back in December of 2012. Apple complied, but in January discovered that the parts he submitted as broken were actually counterfeits. They reported this to the shop, which claimed innocence and reported the case to the police.
It took the police several months, but on 1 April they finally arrested one of the shop’s engineers and her boyfriend, who in turn implicated a number of other employees in the scam, all of whom have since also been arrested. Bit in addition to raising questions about Apple’s after-sales service in China and whether it might be too lenient when it comes to returns, it also raises the question of how many of the iPhones out there are real, if scammers can make fake parts so real that it takes even Apple itself a month to notice the difference.
The safest remedy should just be to buy any Apple products you might need new from on of China’s official Apple stores. Sure, the smaller shops in electronics malls sometimes have Apple goods for cheaper, but you know what they say about deals that seem too good to be true…
This article by C. Custer originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.