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March 30, 2011

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Crooks make dummies of iPhone 4 fans

SWINDLERS sold dummy iPhone 4s to locals desperate to get their hands on the hugely popular Apple smartphone, a court heard.

Three men received prison sentences ranging from six to eight months at Zhabei District People's Court on Monday for conning 9,500 yuan (US$1,448) from victims.

Meanwhile, a man from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been arrested for allegedly operating the same scam.

Judges said the three men from Hunan Province would show a real iPhone 4 to their victims but after a deal was struck swap the iPhone for dummy models and make a quick exit.

"They took advantage of the eagerness of Apple fans who hoped to buy the mobile phone at lower costs," said Liu Ning, a judge at the court.

The trio, who were all born in the 1990s, arrived in the city on September 27 last year and discovered that the iPhone 4 was a must-have item in the city, with fans queuing overnight to buy them.

To cash in, they bought a real iPhone 4 for 4,950 yuan (US$754) and spent 70 yuan on three dummy models. Then they went to a market, well-known for selling smuggled phones, near Shanghai Railway Station on October 6.

One of the gang, Tan Zhijun, found two customers and after they agreed on a price of 3,000 yuan each, Tan Zhihua, a cousin of Tan Zhijun, showed them the real phone.

When the victims confirmed it was genuine, the third member of the gang, Tan Weihong, took back the phone with the excuse of removing the SIM card. He then handed over two dummy phones. The gang told their victims to keep the phones hidden until they had left the market.

By the time the customers realized they'd been duped the gang were long gone.

They repeated the scam a week later, charging a man, surnamed Chen, 3,500 yuan. But a few days later, Chen spotted them at another phone market and alerted police.

In a separate case, a man from Xinjiang, 22, is alleged to have bought a counterfeit iPhone 4 and dummy phones to dupe victims in the same way.

He allegedly cheated 5,800 yuan from three victims seeking phones, Jing'an District prosecutors said.


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