Chinese National in Virginia Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding Apple Inc.

Washington, DC–Teang Liu, 38, of Alexandria, Virginia, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, was sentenced today to 12 months and a day in prison for participating in a conspiracy to defraud Apple Inc. out of more than $1 million.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and Greg Torbenson, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge for the Washington Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Liu pleaded guilty in February 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. In addition to the prison term, the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan ordered Liu to pay $577,780 in restitution and $57,780 in a forfeiture money judgment. Followning his prison term, Liu will be placed on a year of supervised release.

Liu moved to the United States in 2011. In 2014, he obtained his master’s degree in finance from George Washington University. From at least June 2016 to at least June 2018, he actively participated in a conspiracy to defraud Apple.  Liu was recruited to join the conspiracy by Haiteng Wu. Wu also recruited Jiahong Cai, Wu’s wife, to participate in the scheme. Like Liu, Wu and Cai are citizens of the People’s Republic of China.

As part of the scheme, conspirators received shipments of inauthentic iPhones from Hong Kong. Those phones contained spoofed IMEI numbers and serial numbers that corresponded with authentic in-warranty iPhones. The conspirators then returned the inauthentic phones to Apple, claiming that the phones were legitimate, in-warranty phones, all in an effort to receive authentic replacement iPhones from Apple. The fraudulently obtained authentic iPhones were then shipped back to conspirators overseas, including in Hong Kong.

Liu’s particular role in the conspiracy included opening dozens of commercial mail agency mailboxes — mostly at UPS Stores — using fake identification cards that Wu provided to him, returning fraudulent phones to Apple retail stores, and traveling to the Rocky Mountains and Florida to facilitate the fraud.

The conspirators acknowledged successfully defrauding Apple out of nearly $1 million and intending to defraud the company out of even more money.

Wu, Cai, and Liu were arrested in December 2019. Wu and Cai were detained from the time of their arrests to their sentencings. Each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in May 2020. Cai ultimately ended up spending five months at a D.C. jail as part of her sentence. She also was ordered removed from the United States. Wu was sentenced on Feb. 1, 2021, to time served, approximately 26 months that he spent in custody.

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