Californian goes to prison for smuggling fake iPhone parts1
A 46-year-old man from California has been arrested and ended up in federal prison for smuggling likely the last think you could imagine into the United States: fake iPhone parts.
Chan Hung Le, who resides in Orange County, California, had built up an extremely lucrative business for himself by selling thousands of counterfeit smartphone components to repair shops in the US (as well as other electronics), as per an official government report (also covered by iMore).
He sold not only fake iPhone parts, but also Samsung and Motorola components. He had a whole team working with him in the scheme, who helped him get a hold of the parts in China, and then secretly import them into the States for re-sale.
Hung Le's profitable business ran for just under four years, from back in 2011 to February 2015. He was discovered when his supplier was caught and spilled the beans about Le's involvement in the whole thing. It was revealed that "Le set up and used mailboxes with virtual office service providers in Oklahoma and Texas using a fictitious business name, JV Trading Solutions," as per the report.
One of the darker sides of the scheme was that Le actually "used the name and identity documents of one of his employees to set up the virtual offices," which is essentially identity theft—whether the victim was willing or not. Le also exploited the names and identities of multiple others of his employees, as well as those of his relatives, under which he directed his cohorts to ship the products.
Apparently, Le's plan of hiding behind his employees' identities, thinking he'd be invisible if anyone caught wind of the business or any names, didn't exactly work. When a supplier of his named Hongwei “Nick” Du was finally cornered in San Diego, he spilled the beans about Le, admitting he'd sold him $18,744,354 worth of Chinese parts, most of which were counterfeit—before being sentenced to three years in federal prison.
In the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors stated:
This certainly isn't the best news we could hear right for the right-to-repair community, as Apple has been rigidly fighting against allowing anyone but a miniscule amount of Authorized Apple Shops around the world to fix iPhones and other Apple products.
Apple could, unfortunately, use extreme examples like this case to argue that allowing third parties to repair would throw everything into chaos and destroy the iPhone's reputation and quality, considering how rampant the fake iPhone part business seems to be.
In the meantime, if you'd like to get a look at some authentic iPhones for sale, with no counterfeit components in them, you can always check out our list of the Best iPhone 11 Deals Right Now!