San Diego residents Zhimin and Zhiting Liao, also known as Jimmy and Allen Liao, have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a counterfeit Apple product scheme. The brothers attempted to exchange 10,000 fake Apple products for genuine ones over the course of eight years, resulting in a profit of approximately $6.1 million. They were caught in 2019 and have now received 41-month prison sentences as part of a plea deal.
The Liao brothers’ scheme involved exporting the genuine Apple products, including iPhones and iPads, to buyers in foreign countries. In addition to their prison sentences, they will forfeit five San Diego residences, $250,000 earned from the scheme, and 200 iPhones tied to the illegal activity. Their spouses, who were also involved, pleaded guilty and received three years of probation.
Another brother, Zhiwei Liao, is awaiting sentencing later this month, while eight co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty. This case is not an isolated incident, as a college student in Oregon was convicted in 2019 for a similar scam involving fake iPhones. However, the Liao brothers’ operation was much more extensive, with Zhimin Liao personally visiting 105 Apple Stores in 22 states and attempting to exchange around 720 fake devices. Zhiting Liao attempted approximately 718 device swaps in at least 200 Apple Stores across 18 US states and Canada.