A Chinese man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for smuggling more than 40,000 counterfeit Apple products and accessories into the U.S.
Jianhua “Jeff” Li, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to trafficking counterfeit goods and labels and to smuggle goods into the U.S., as well as one count of trafficking counterfeit goods. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison in a Newark federal court on Tuesday.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, Li made more than $1 million from the fake Apple scheme.
Li’s Counterfeiting Scheme
Li, who had been living in the U.S. on a student visa, trafficked nearly 40,000 fake electronic devices and accessories from China to the U.S. between July 2009 and February 2014, according to the Justice Department.
The scheme also involved fake Apple packaging and labels, which were shipped separately from the hardware devices to avoid suspicion from U.S. and Chinese customs.
Once in the U.S., the goods and packaging were then shipped to “conspirators” all over the country.
To disguise the source of the money made off of the counterfeit products, the scheme involved funneling the cash through accounts in Florida and New Jersey by way of structured cash deposits. A portion of those proceeds were then transferred to conspirators in Italy.
Li’s company, Dream Digitals, had also worked with a handful of other conspirators, including Andreina Becerra, Roberto Volpe and Rosario LaMarca. All of those conspirators were similarly sentenced, and two of them got time in prison for the scheme.
Fake Apple Products
Apple products are a frequent target for counterfeiting, likely because of their popularity and relatively high price.
While fake iPhones are easy to spot when turned on, some people across the world have fallen victim to fake iPhone scams.
Other fake Apple devices, like counterfeit chargers and accessories, are much harder to detect. That’s a problem since counterfeit charging hardware can actually be dangerous if used.
Because of the risk of receiving a counterfeit product, it’s recommended that you do your research before buying any Apple device from a marketplace like Craigslist or eBay. It’s probably also smart to just straight-up avoid buying any charging hardware from the secondary market.