A 44-year-old Chinese man just pleaded guilty to selling more than 40,000 counterfeit Apple products in the United States where he was living on a student visa.
Jianhua Li, also known as "Jeff," was involved with a counterfeit ring dealing in fake iPhones and iPads. The man roughly made $1.1 million from selling counterfeit Apple goods, and he's now facing prison time after pleading guilty.
Chinese Man Sold Fake Apple Products In US
"A Chinese national living in the United States on a student visa pleaded guilty today for his role as a counterfeit distributor in a scheme to traffic and smuggle counterfeit electronics purporting to be Apple iPhones and iPads, from China into the United States," the Justice Department announced on Friday, Feb. 2.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for trafficking fake labels and goods, smuggling counterfeit products into the United States, and another count of trafficking in fake products.
Counterfeit Goods From Dream Digitals
After pleading guilty, Li is now waiting for a sentence on May 30 and is facing two years in prison. Court records show that Li and several other individuals conspired to smuggle more than 40,000 devices and accessories including iPhones and iPads, into the United States, through his company called "Dream Digitals."
Li reportedly shipped the counterfeit devices and labels separately in order to avoid drawing the attention of U.S. authorities. The fake devices then shipped to others part of this scheme nationwide.
The more than $1.1 million Li obtained from selling fake Apple products went directly into his bank accounts in New Jersey and Florida in the form of structured cash deposits. Part of the profit also reached conspirators in Italy, which helped mark the source of the funds.
Conspirators Plead Guilty
The scheme to deal with counterfeit Apple goods through Dream Digitals went on from July 2009 until February 2014. Rosario LaMarca, another conspirator part of this elaborate scheme, also pleaded guilty and on July 20, 2017, the court sentenced him to 37 months in prison. Li, along with other two conspirators who pleaded guilty to being part of this trafficking ring, are still waiting to get their sentences.
Such contraband operations are pretty common worldwide, but it's rather rare to see large traffickers and counterfeiters caught in the United States. The scheme worked because Apple products are expensive, to begin with, and counterfeit electronics are often considerably cheaper.
Victims think that it's a bargain, but they don't realize that they're actually buying counterfeit products. The price may be good compared to the regular price of authentic Apple products, but it's quite steep for fake goods.