The launch of the newest iPhone model in India is about 10 days away, but cell phone traders looking to make a quick buck are flying to Hong Kong, where the phones are already available, to buy them in bulk and sell them in the city at a higher price.
The Air Intelligence Unit has now put passengers from all Hong Kong flights under the scanner at Mumbai’s international airport, after a sudden spike in the smuggling of iPhone 7 and 7 plus models in the past week. AIU sources said more than 100 phones were caught in one week.
Sale of the popular phone in India begins in October, but the demand is huge and people are willing to pay more to get the phone early, said one shop owner, not wishing to be named.
“Traders are flying themselves to bring them back. We have caught many flyers from Hong Kong trying to smuggle the two models,” said an officer. Similar cases are being detected in Delhi and Hyderabad as well.
“There is a huge profit margin owing to the popularity and traders are trying to bring in 10 to 12 units to cash in on this,” said the official, adding these phones are usually sold without boxes.
AIU is also watching flights from other countries, and have imposed a heavy penalty.
“There are two types of confiscation-absolute confiscation and confiscation in lieu of fine. We resort to absolute confiscation for products such as cigarettes, while in such cases, we are imposing heavy fines,” said the officer.
The trend of smuggling in iPhones before its official launch has been observed over the past few years, officials said. Last year, there was rise in flyers bringing in the iPhone 6 S and 6 S plus models before the launch.