According to a report in TechWeb, Chinese scammers are using Apple's return system to swap fake iPhone parts with real ones. An independent Apple shop in Wenzhou reportedly turned in 121 iPhone 4S parts, claiming they were broken. These parts comprise the core of the phone's internals and are worth just under US$500 each. Apple replaced the parts and then discovered a month later that they were counterfeit.
An investigation led to the arrest of one of the store's engineers and several other store employees who were involved in the scam. As noted by TechInAsia, this elaborate hoax casts doubt on the authenticity of iPhones in the Chinese handset market. If fake components are crafted so well that even Apple can't spot them right away, what does that mean for the consumer who is shopping at a smaller electronics store? To be assured that their phone is authentic, customers should shop at one of China's official Apple Stores. Prices are higher, but they will know that they are getting the real thing.