San Francisco– A Chinese national has been sentenced to 26 months in a US prison for his role in a scheme to defraud Apple out of more than $1 million with counterfeit iPhones, reports said.

According to AppleInsider, Haiteng Wu, 32, immigrated to the US in 2013 to study engineering. He received his Master’s Degree in 2015 and secured employment two years later.

However, the Justice Department said that, at the same time, he embarked on a three and a half year scheme to defraud Apple, the report said.

The scheme involved receiving shipments of counterfeit clones from Hong Kong that had spoofed IMEI and serial numbers corresponding to authentic Apple devices.

Haiteng, together with other conspirators, would then return these inauthentic devices to Apple, claiming that they were legitimate devices still under warranty. The goal was to receive authentic iPhone devices as replacements.

Those authentic replacements models were then shipped back to conspirators overseas, including in Hong Kong.

Haiteng recruited others, including his wife Jiahong Cai, to take part in the scheme, the report said.

In addition to the conspiracy itself, he also secured fake identification documents, opened multiple commercial mail receiving mailboxes and arranged for members of the scheme to travel through the US.

In total, Haiteng acknowledged that he had defrauded Apple out of nearly $1 million, adding that he intended to continue the scheme. He and his conspirator were arrested in December 2019. He has been in custody since.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in May 2020. On Tuesday, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sentenced him to the 26 months he has already served in custody and ordered him to pay $987,000 in restitution, and an identical amount in a money forfeiture judgment.

Like her husband, Jiahong also pleaded guilty to one county of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in May 2020.

The case was investigated by the US Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the US Postal Inspection Service. (IANS)