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Karol Bagh to China: How a Delhi gang ‘revived’ stolen iPhones, sold them as new

The Delhi Police arrested four persons of a Delhi gang who replaced the motherboard of stolen iPhones and changed the IMEI numbers to pass them off as new. After being ‘processed’, the stolen iPhones were either sold or returned at Apple Centres.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2017 18:36 IST
Ananya Bhardwaj
Ananya Bhardwaj
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Karol Bagh,China
The gang not only fooled people but also Apple service centers as they succeeded in passing the stolen phones as genuine and got them exchanged for new phones under the warranty scheme. (Photo: Sourced)

If you have a dealer offering a brand new iPhone at half the price, do not fall for the trap. Delhi Police’s Crime Branch has arrested four persons who allegedly cheated several unsuspecting buyers by selling them old stolen mobile phones that were passed them off as new after changing the motherboard and IMEI numbers.

The men not only fooled people but also Apple service centers as they succeeded in passing the stolen phones as genuine and got them exchanged for new phones under the warranty scheme. With the arrest the police have recovered 409 I phones, 18 I pads, 250 front displays of iPhones along with other accessories.

The police received an information about the men running an illegal Apple iPhone workshop at Mal Colony, Filmistan area in north Delhi and an Apple iPhone Store at Gaffar Market, Karol Bagh, where they allegedly refurbished old Apple iPhones.

According to the police, Muneer Khan, Anash Khan, Mohammad Hamza Khan and Mohammad Ibrahim imported motherboards of iPhones from China along with new valid IMEI numbers that they then embossed on plates of old phones. They then packaged those phones and sold them as new phone with attractive discounts online or at shops in Karol Bagh.

“After receiving a stock of stolen phones, the men in the workshop used to burn the IMEI of those phones. They then procured motherboards of old mobile phones from China. Once they got the motherboards, they would emboss a valid IMEI number and package it nicely for sale. For some phones they used to approach the Apple iPhone service centers and complain of a defect in the device. With connivance of the staff at the center they would then exchange the stolen phones for new devices. They were not only fooling customers but also the company,” joint commissioner of police, crime, Praveer Ranjan said.

The police official said the crime branch was monitoring certain inputs regarding change of IMEI of stolen mobile phone, when they were given a tip off about a gang running an illegal Apple iPhone workshop at Filmistan and a store at Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh. “We conducted a raid at the workshop and found a number of new and old Apple iPhones, two laptops, computer spare parts and machine. We found Muneer Khan getting Apple iPhone assembled with the help of two boys and he was immediately nabbed. A bag with 12 different models of apple iPhones were recovered,” DCP Crime, Bhisham Singh said.

During questioning, Muneer Khan revealed that he had purchased some mobile phones from China and some of them were stolen, the police said. “He revealed that a laser machine was used to change IMEI of stolen mobile phones. While he stole some phones, others were replaced for new phones in connivance with staff of Apple iPhone service centers. After packing in new duplicate boxes with high quality accessories, they were selling these mobile phones in market as new ones without bill,” Singh said.


The accused received stolen mobile phones from various sources. In their workshop, such phones were given the name of “flight”. After receiving the phones, the culprits used to throw the SIM tray and display was removed. At the second stage, the motherboard of phone containing inbuilt IMEI was removed and taken to China for destruction of evidence.

After the IMEI was burnt, they imported new motherboards and valid IMEI numbers from China.

The accused used ‘Wechat’ App to obtain such IMEIs from China, which were under warranty and could be replaced from Apple Care Centers.

Once received the instrument was again assembled. The new SIM tray was then put and the new IMEI number was embossed using laser.

The arrested men told the police that they have a huge market in Hong Kong of old iPhones under warranty. These phones come to China, and from China the accused persons import these phones to India. Thereafter they get them replaced in connivance with Apple Store employees with new phones.

These new Apple iPhones are packed in duplicate boxes. Stickers, that are printed in their workshop showing new IMEI are pasted on the duplicate boxes. After complete packing these phones are sold online and at Gaffar market, Karol Bagh.

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 17:21 IST