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AppleCare fraud scheme used more than 1,000 fake iPhones from Hong Kong

A pair of Chinese citizens have been charged with fraud in Switzerland for a scheme that involved more than 1,000 fake iPhones from Hong Kong.

The pair, a mother and son, took the “deceptively real-looking” iPhones to Apple Stores, where they asked for replacements. The fake iPhones, which had simulated water damage, were also given IMEI numbers that matched genuine iPhones with legitimate AppleCare+ policies, 9to5Mac reported.

Apple Stores are concerned that checking such iPhones may result in a short circuit and a battery fire, so once the AppleCare+ policy is confirmed, the devices are replaced with new ones for 99 Swiss francs, which is equivalent to about $107.

The son was able to exchange more than 1,000 fake iPhones, while the mother exchanged more than 100. They received the fake iPhones from a contact in Hong Kong and shipped the real ones back, earning 10 Swiss francs, or about $11, for each device, Swiss news website SRF reported.

The pair, who claim that they believed the iPhones were real, are appearing in court today and tomorrow, according to SRF. The son, who has lived in Switzerland for almost 20 years, is facing a four-year prison sentence and the possibility of being expelled from the country.

The report said that the mother and son were caught when Swiss customs officers intercepted two packages with 50 iPhones that were determined to be fake. However, it remains unclear how the customs officers recognized the counterfeit iPhones, even as the Apple Store staff did not.

Digital Trends has reached out to Apple for comment on the matter, including whether it will implement changes to protect itself from similar schemes in the future. We will update this article as soon as we hear back.

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