Man Who Duped Apple into Replacing Fake iPhones for Authentic Devices Worth $1 Million Convicted and Sentenced

A man has been sentenced to 26 months time served in prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to defraud Apple out of more than $1 million by tricking the company into replacing hundreds of fake iPhones with authentic handsets through its warranty program.

iphone in box
Haiteng Wu, 32, a Chinese engineering post-graduate residing in McLean, Virginia, immigrated to the United States in 2013 and secured lawful employment, before embarking on the roughly three-and-a-half-year-long scheme to defraud Apple.

As part of the scheme, Wu and other conspirators received multiple packages containing hundreds of inoperable, counterfeit iPhones from partners in Hong Kong. The phones contained spoofed IMEI numbers and serial numbers that corresponded with authentic in-warranty iPhones.

Using fake names, the conspirators then returned the inauthentic phones to Apple, claiming the "iPhones" no longer worked and should be replaced under warranty. Apple replaced the fake handsets with authentic iPhones, and Wu then shipped back the fraudulently obtained devices to conspirators overseas, including Hong Kong.

Wu recruited others, including his wife, Jiahong Cai, and Teang Liu to participate in the conspiracy, and also procured fake identification documents, used aliases, and opened multiple commercial mail receiving agency mailboxes.

In total, Wu acknowledged defrauding Apple out of nearly $1 million and intending to defraud the company out of even more money. Wu and his conspirators were arrested in December 2019, and Wu has been in custody since.

Wu pleaded guilty in May 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. On Tuesday, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sentenced Wu to the time he had already served in custody and ordered him to pay $987,000 in restitution and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgement.

Like her husband, Cai pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and the judge sentenced her to over five months time served following her guilty plea. Liu also pleaded guilty to the same offense and will be sentenced next month. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

This isn't the first time Apple has been duped into replacing hundreds of fake iPhones with authentic handsets through its warranty program. In 2019, Chinese engineering student Quan Jiang was sentenced to three years and one month of imprisonment by a US district judge after he was found guilty of scamming Apple in the same manner, also to the tune of $1 million.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Davidglenn Avatar
13 months ago
A few years ago a friend of mine from China dropped and broke the screen of his iPhone. He took it in to be repaired and Apple said it would take two weeks as they had to verify the phone.

These scammers have made it harder for honest legitimate customers to get fast service. Also, Apple would have increased the costs of products to cover the scammers. So everyone loses out.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Reggaenald Avatar
13 months ago
How many phones must they have faked and gotten from Apple for $1.000.000? That’s impressive. They were very smart, but not smart enough to stop. In the end arrogance, ignorance and thirst for more and more ??? tightened their nooses.
I wonder if they had more motivation than just $.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
13 months ago
Bruh this guy probably came to my store when I worked in Apple Retail.

There were a LOT of customers trying this. Bringing bricked phones to have them swapped. Some got through, some didn’t. Not that it REALLY matters, but a lot of them were Chinese.

They had quite the operation. The technicians started flagging the repairs.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiVolt Avatar
13 months ago
So they arrest this guy, but let violent criminals out on bail, or no bail...

How ironic eh?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tripps9000 Avatar
13 months ago
Wow people never learn I guess getting a job and earn money the right way is dead now
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
laptech Avatar
13 months ago
I wonder if Apple noticed this scam early on but let it carry on because law enforcement wanted to catch everyone involved, buyers, sellers, those that provided the fake phones, the false serial numbers and the false IMEI numbers, distributors and those in China as well.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
MKBHD HomePod 2 White Ring Stain

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces

Tuesday January 31, 2023 8:29 am PST by
When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod. In a side-by-side test, he showed that the white second-generation HomePod left a white ring on the wooden surface that he placed the speaker on,...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
iOS 16

When Will the iOS 16.4 Beta Be Released?

Wednesday February 1, 2023 11:09 am PST by
It's been more than a week since Apple released the iOS 16.3 update, and typically, new iOS betas follow launches within a day or so. We were expecting Apple to provide the first beta iOS 16.4 on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, but that hasn't happened. Tuesdays are the days that we most often see betas, though Monday and Wednesday happen now and then, and most often betas come...