Apple’s smartphones aren’t cheap, making them not just a necessity but also a status symbol for some. With its increasing price tags, it also makes iPhones an easy target for thieves. Unfortunately, one guy not only had his iPhone stolen from him, but it happened before he received it and he even got a fake one in the mail instead.
Reddit user u/theEdmard had posted on the Apple and Linus Tech Tips subreddit highlighting his unusual ‘iPhone’ after ordering an iPhone 15 Pro Max from the Apple website itself. According to u/theEdmard, he had ordered his iPhone 15 Pro Max from the Apple UK website itself, and was given legitimate tracking details. However, once the package arrived, he first noticed upon unboxing it that it came with a screen protector already on—something Apple does not do normally. The box itself looked normal at first but on the inside, he noticed that the internals were ripped up, with new paper tabs pasted over it.
On further inspection, it seemed rather obvious that the ‘iPhone’ wasn’t using an OLED display panel too and even had a ‘chin’ bezel on the bottom. Booting it up, u/theEdmard realised that it was an Android smartphone with a heavily customised skin to make it look like an iPhone, and worryingly enough even had a place for you to log into your Apple ID. This could lead to him or anyone else who logs into this unidentified iPhone copy having their Apple ID information stolen. He also checked the battery history, which showed that it definitely was not brand new as it was used over the past month.
As it turns out, u/theEdmard isn’t even the only one to have been scammed like this, hinting at a possible larger scale operation going on by bad actors. A quick search on the official Apple Support forums show plenty of users complaining about receiving wrong iPhones from Apple after purchasing from the Apple website. Some claimed to have gotten older iPhone models that were blocked already due to bad IMEI numbers, while others like u/theEdmard received fake iPhones. Another person who received an Android phone disguised as an iPhone after ordering from Apple posted what he got on TikTok:
In any case, it seems highly likely that between Apple shipping them out and these prospective iPhone 15 Pro users receiving them, someone along the line had swapped out the real thing for a fake one. For most people they could probably identify the fake iPhone, but older folks or those less tech illiterate might end up fooled and never realise it. Even if they do realise it, by the time they file a complaint to Apple, there’s a good chance that the thieves would’ve sold the stolen iPhone already. Apple would also ban the IMEI number of the stolen iPhone once they can confirm that it was stolen, rendering it useless to whoever ends up buying the stolen iPhone unwittingly.
As for u/theEdmard, he has since filed a support ticket with Apple, and Cupertino has since said that they’ll get back to him soon. Chances are that Apple is investigating the issue too, as the last thing they would want are people not having trusting their own website enough to buy their iPhones.