Following a tip-off from U.S. law enforcement, nine people have been arrested in connection with a secret factory in China producing counterfeit Apple products on a massive scale.
On Sunday, Beijing police released details of the facility bust, including the names of the married couple who ran it under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The man, surnamed Yu, and his wife, surnamed Xie, had built a full-scale operation with hundreds of workers on six assembly lines. The fake phones were constructed from secondhand smartphone parts and counterfeit products from the country’s industrial center, Shenzhen.
The facility produced more than 41,000 counterfeit iPhones and accessories worth up to 120 million yuan (more than $19 million). It’s not clear where the phones were being shipped to be sold, but reports from U.S. law enforcement show fake China-made iPhones were seized in the states last May.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook (pictured above) said he expects China to one day become the company’s biggest market, adding: “We’re just getting started there.”
And the data does not lie. According to Apple’s July earnings report, revenue from Apple products sold in China has doubled year-over-year to $13.2 billion, and, as Mashable points out, Apple has been increasingly keen to serve the Chinese market; for example, introducing more gold into its range to satisfy Chinese color preferences.
So, there is more to Apple’s stringent authorized re-seller and repair shop policy than just trying to keep the business in the family. And it all makes sense.