What just happened? A Chinese national who tricked Apple into giving him more than $1 million worth of iPhones by sending fakes to Cupertino's warranty replacement program has been sentenced to 26 months time served in prison.

Haiteng Wu, 32, emigrated to McLean, Virginia, in 2013 to study engineering. He received his Master's Degree in 2015 and secured lawful employment two years later. Wu then embarked on a roughly three-year-long scheme to defraud Apple, writes the Department of Justice.

Wu's scheme involved receiving shipments of fake iPhones from Hong Kong that came with spoofed IMEI numbers and serial numbers corresponding to authentic in-warranty iPhones. Using false names, Wu and his conspirators sent these phones to Apple, claiming they were legitimate handsets still under warranty that no longer worked. The idea was that Apple would send out genuine replacements, which the company did.

Once Wu and the others received the real replacement iPhones from Apple, the devices were sent to conspirators in overseas locations, including Hong Kong.

Wu recruited others into the scheme, including his wife, Jiahong Cai. He also procured fake identification documents, used aliases, opened multiple commercial mail receiving agency mailboxes, and arranged for conspiracy members to travel throughout the United States.

Wu acknowledged that he had defrauded Apple out of nearly $1 million and intended to continue the scheme. He was arrested along with his conspirator in December 2019 and has been in custody since that time.

Wu pleaded guilty in May 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sentenced him to 26 months time served. Wu was also ordered to pay $987,000 in restitution and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.

Judge Sullivan also ordered Wu to forfeit his interests in two condominium units, one in McLean, Virginia, the other in Arlington, Virginia, the latter of which was purchased for cash during the conspiracy.

Cai also pleaded guilty to mail fraud. The judge sentenced her to over five months time served

If details of this case sounds familiar, it's because another Chinese engineering student, Quan Jiang, used the same method to scam Apple out of $1 million worth of iPhones in 2017. He was sentenced to three years and one month behind bars for his role in the scheme.