A recently unsealed federal grand jury indictment disclosed allegations against three San Diego brothers, claiming that the siblings orchestrated an international counterfeit scheme. They allegedly behind $6m international scheme exchanging counterfeit iPads and iPhones.
Fox 5 News reports that Zhiting (age 30), Zhimin (age 33) and Zhiwei (age 31) Liao were allegedly the “ringleaders” of a criminal conspiracy involving more than 10,000 of counterfeit iPads and iPhones. The report claims that brothers imported mobile devices from China and exchanged them for genuine products throughout North America.
FBI agents arrested the three siblings and their wives Wednesday morning. The operation consisted of the serving of 11 search warrants among several homes, businesses and vehicles in Mission Hills and Mira Mesa. It reportedly led to the seizure of 90 iPhones and $250,000 in cash.
An assistant U.S. attorney, Tim Salel, stated that the brothers would intentionally damage the counterfeit devices to qualify for in-store exchanges. Due to the existing warranty coverage on the Apple mobile devices, the brothers were allegedly able to successfully exchange a significant number of them.
The report further alleges that the brothers would then ship the authentic Apple devices back to China and other countries to sell at premium prices.
The loss of the items exchanged in this criminal conspiracy, which reportedly began in 2014, exceeds $6 million. If the brothers are convicted, ABC News reports that the siblings will have to surrender the proceeds and possibly their five family-owned businesses established throughout the city of San Diego.
U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer issued an official statement about the alleged crimes, explaining that it is about much more than just the money lost. On the contrary, Brewer expressed that the manufacturing of the counterfeit devices and their fraudulent usage undermined the marketplace and harm the innocent identity theft victims.
According to the report, 14 defendants – including 11 San Diego residents – were charged with such offenses as fraud, identity theft, conspiracy and money laundering. Xiamon Zhong (age 33), Charley Hsu (age 39) and Hyo Weon Yang (age 31) are the only 3 defendants not currently in custody.
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