This week in Shanghai, a trial continues for gangs accused with smuggling 162,000 Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.
The lurid story prosecutors tell is a gripping one. It involves Hong Kong housewives pretending to be tourists and buying up handsets to sell on commission and smuggling gangs Hong Kong officials allege to be responsible for the said scam.
Art Credit: Gina Smith
This from the Shanghai Daily.com
The trial was for the members of five (alleged) smuggling gangs prosecuted for offering more than 162,000 iPhones and iPads to Lanyou Numeral, once the top seller of its kind in the country’s most popular online shopping platform, prosecutors said. The smugglers’ trial was held on Wednesday in Shenzhen City in southern Guangdong Province.
They also evaded taxes of up to 54.87 million yuan, Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court heard. The Lanyou store shut down in April.
More than half of the suspects are housewives lured to play the part of tourists in Hong Kong to buy up mass quantities of handsets to sell in China’s mainland …
Among those accused were 25 suspects who allegedly sold smuggled Apple phones and tablet computers worth 500 million yuan (US$80.25 million) to an online gadget store on Taobao.com, officials said.
TaoBao.com and Apple reps were unavailable to comment at this writing.
A little more background:
The housewives mentioned above are more than a dozen in number, bit more than half of the 25 suspects involved. Each housewife, according to an investigation conducted by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, was getting just 20 to 30 yuan in commission.
And the 25 individuals at trial now are just a portion of the 100 plus suspects Shenzhen Customs says it arrested in April 2012. The status of the others is as yet unclear.
But the HKICAC alleges that its investigation caught Lanyou red-handed — basically selling truckloads of Apple iPhone 4S devices at bargain basement prices and before Apple released it on the mainland.
Here at aNewDomain.net, we are hearing that, as a result of the sting, Hong Kong buyers are having a tough time finding Apple iPhone 4S and other models. Are you one? Email us with text or a video and give us a report.
We should add that, according to reports, officials say most of the accused confessed and begged for a more lenient sentence than the typical up to a life in prison smugglers face. The housewives involved claimed ignorance of the scheme for the most part, sources say, adding “they thought it was just another low-paying” part-time job in a touch economy.
We’ll keep you up on this developing story.