Chinese factory that produced 41,000 counterfeit iPhones shut down after some made it to the U.S.


Beijing police have raided and closed down a factory which employed hundreds of workers on six production lines to make more than 41,000 counterfeit iPhones – some of which made it to the United States, reports Reuters. The total value of the fake phones was estimated at 120M Yuan ($19M). While the raid took place in May, Chinese authorities only shared details yesterday.

Police arrested nine people, including a married couple who led the operation, after a raid in May on the factory, run under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop on the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital.

The investigation was prompted by a tip-off from U.S. authorities after some of the fake phones made it to the USA … 

Author Ad Placeholder
Will only appear on redesign env.

Police seized 1,400 handsets during the raid.

China has for many years been one of the largest sources of counterfeit goods due to lack of intellectual property protection in the country – right the way through to complete fake Apple Stores where even the staff thought they were working for Apple.

Apple assembled its own anti-counterfeiting team back in 2008 to tackle the issue, but was reportedly getting little help at the time from Chinese authorities. However, the Chinese government has in recent years been making greater efforts to act against the trade.

It’s not the first time fake iPhones have reached the US, Baltimore police in 2013 raiding two retail outlets found to be selling a range of counterfeit Apple products, including 24 iPhones. The fake shown in the above photo even has a faked Touch ID sensor: it doesn’t read a fingerprint, but does unlock the phone when touched.

Fake iPhone 6 image from GadgetsToUse video

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    How long was it operating for? That’s even fewer iPhone knock offs than Samsung moved this year. It doesn’t seem to be a very profitable business unless you’re mashing it together with a pyramid scheme.

  2. telecastle - 8 years ago

    Did these counterfeit iPhones actually work? Did they run iOS? How would one manufacture a counterfeit iPhone running iOS to begin with? Were the counterfeit iPhones manufactured from the parts that didn’t pass QC at Foxconn and were stolen and used at this factory? This is a fascinating story, so please provide details.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Chinese authorities haven’t released any more details, but fake iPhones generally run Android with an iOS-like skin.

      • telecastle - 8 years ago

        If these counterfeit iPhones run Android with iOS-like skin, they are not much different from Xiaomi made phones. A counterfeit iPhone running IOS would make it a fascinating story.

  3. 89p13 - 8 years ago

    And that’s why I choose to buy my iPhone directly from Apple. It’s carrier free and genuine Apple.

    “Hey, pal, I can get you an iPhone at a great price.” Sometimes . . . . You get what you pay for!

  4. There’s plenty of IP protection in China, it just isn’t enforced consistently and thoroughly enough. Had there been no laws on the books, this factory, and others, would still be operating. China has copyright laws, patents and trademarks. Authorities there also recognize that Apple is a major employer and that every legitimate iPhone is produce in the country. A lot of heads will continue to roll.

  5. This is what happens when you deal with a country that has no respect for intellectual property rights, to the point that they are condoning massive piracy in order to shore up their local manufacturing capabilities. This timely released “news” is just for show.

  6. rnc - 8 years ago

    If it’s not a counterfeit iPhone, it’s not a counterfeit iPhone.

  7. thatsdb - 8 years ago

    Complete fakes! Fake Apple stores? When are we going to wake up that this is still a suspect Communist country we are dealing with. When are you folks going to realize they have a plan in effect.

    • Its probably good their country’s stocks is crashing.. maybe manufacturers will finally get to their senses and move their factories to other, more IP-respecting states that is not out to steal their hard-earned tech.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear