Fake Apple products, which often originate from China, have been around for a long time. Now, the US Department of Justice has announced a victory in the fight against counterfeit goods after it arrested a Chinese national living in the US who sold over 40,000 knock-off devices.
43-year-old Jianhua "Jeff" Li, who has been living in the United States on a student visa, sold fake electronic devices like iPhones and iPads between 2009 and 2014. Li, along with Andreina Becerra, Roberto Volpe, and Rosario LaMarca, smuggled the items into the US from China.
To avoid suspicion, the group shipped “labels and packaging bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks” into the country separately. Li is thought to have made around $1.1 million from the sale of the goods to customers who believed they were buying genuine Apple products.
The DoJ states that cash generated from the sales went into the co-conspirators accounts that were held in Florida and New Jersey, and a portion of it was transferred to Italy to further disguise its origin.
Li has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and labels and to smuggling goods. He will be sentenced on May 30.
The three other members of the group have also pleaded guilty. LaMarca was sentenced to 37 months in prison in July last year, while Becerra and Volpe are awaiting sentencing.
In 2016, Apple sued US-based firm Mobile Star LLC for trademark infringement, alleging that it had been selling counterfeit goods using Apple logos and product images in its listings.