Investigators are saying two Oregon engineering students from China were trying to pull a fast one on Apple of all companies/empires.
According to The Oregonian, Yangyang Zhou and Quan Jiang are accused of trying to swap fake iPhones for new ones by importing more than 2,0000 counterfeit phones then sending them to Apple for exchange. They would claim the counterfeit phones wouldn’t power on, then under Apple’s warranty process, the company would send them brand new phones. Once the new phones were in their possession, they allegedly sent them to China for resale, via a middleman.
Investigators connected Jiang’s name, email, mailing address or IP address to the 3,069 iPhone warranty claims. Apple replaced 1,493 of the phones in the claims, according to a business record, causing the company an estimated loss of $895,800.
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Both Zhou and Jian were in the U.S. lawfully on student visas, say prosecutors. Zhou finished his engineering studies at Oregon State University while Jiang was studying engineering last spring at Linn Benton Community College, say court records.
Both Zhou and Jiang argue that they didn’t know the phones shipped to them were counterfeit Apple phones, according to court records. Jiang also told prosecutors that Apple never told him that the phones they sent in were stolen or counterfeit.
The investigation into the two students has been happening since 2017. In June and July of that year, Apple’s legal counsel sent Jiang cease-and-desist orders to an address connected to him. Then, last year, federal agents searched Jiang’s residence and found more than 300 counterfeit iPhones, shipping records, warranty submission documents and multiple boxes addressed to Zhou, his alleged accomplice.
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Court records say customs officials in Portland also intercepted three shipments originating from China that held 95 counterfeit Apple iPhones addressed to Zhou. More than 200 iPhone warranty claims were made in Zhou’s name or mailing addresses associated with Zhou, and investigators say he had been receiving warranty replacement phones from Apple.
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Jiang is accused of wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods, while Zhou is accused of submitting false or misleading information on an export declaration. According to ABC News, Jiang could face up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines, while Zhou could face a $10,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison.
Zhou’s lawyer told The Oregonian that she believes her client will be vindicated while Jiang’s defense lawyer declined to comment.
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