iPhone scammer who cost Apple $6 million sentenced to 51 months in prison

An iPad and iPhone scammer whose devices were estimated to cost Apple more than $6 million to replace has been sentenced 51 months in prison.

Two of his co-defendants were sentenced to 41 months in prison each back in 2023. The trio also had more than $4 million worth of property and cash confiscated …

The scam was sophisticated. The team purchased non-functional but highly convincing counterfeit iPhones and iPads from China that were given the serial numbers of genuine products sold by Apple in the US.

They then hired hundreds of people to smuggle counterfeit products into Apple stores, claiming they wouldn't turn on. When Apple discovered that the devices were not working and checked the serial numbers, they confirmed that the products were within warranty, so they made replacements. These genuine devices were then shipped back to China and sold.

The same method was used in a previous scam estimated to be worth $1 million.

All three ringleaders were brothers, two of whom had previously been sentenced to 41 months in prison. Patent Apple says the third and final verdict has already been handed down.

Zhiwei “Allen” Liao was sentenced today in federal court to 51 months in prison for his role as the mastermind and the leader of an international conspiracy to trade in counterfeit Apple products […]

USA. District Judge Cynthia Ann Bashant said the harsh prison sentence was appropriate because Zhiwei Liao was the mastermind and leader of a vast international criminal organization that trafficked counterfeit goods throughout North America for several years.

The scheme was complex. and dynamic, involving counterfeit devices imported from China that looked like genuine devices under warranty. Chiwei Liao micromanaged the operations and created a moving target for law enforcement by directing counterfeit Apple products and criminal proceeds to be sent to various co-conspirators, companies, and family members throughout the scheme. The co-conspirators supported these efforts to evade law enforcement by exchanging counterfeit goods using various fictitious names and email accounts.

The scheme operated for several years before it was ultimately disclosed by the partnership. between the FBI and the San Diego Police Department.

“Mr. Liao’s sentencing concludes an important chapter in a multi-year investigation that uncovered a complex international scheme to sell counterfeit products around the world,” said FBI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Stacy Moy.

Photo: Apple


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