White iPhone 4 Kits Bring Teen $130K & Threats
A 17-year-old in New York City who bought parts from China to make white iPhone 4 conversion kits has made a pile of money… and a potentially dangerous enemy. Fei Lam, a high school senior from Queens, says he's gotten a threatening letter from a private investigator accusing him of selling stolen goods, and thinks it sounds a lot like the legal threats Apple made against the kid who found/stole the iPhone 4 test unit back in April.
Lam - like many iPhone users - was tired of waiting for the white iPhone 4. But unlike many iPhone users in the US, he speaks fluent Mandarin and has contacts at Apple's manufacturer in China. Working through "a guy from a few years back that had somewhat of a relationship with folks in Foxconn," Lam was able to get what he claims are authentic iPhone 4 white screens, digitizers, bezels, home buttons and case backs. He started repacking and shipping the kits from his parents' house, but was losing money on the deal until he figured out how to have the parts shipped direct. After his story was picked up by TechCrunch
, sales went through the roof.
That's when the trouble began.
Lam told the New York Observer
he got a “threatening” letter from a private investigator who claims the parts are stolen, which Lam says he is "100 percent sure is not the case." The investigator did not identify who he is working for, but Lam - and common sense - says it is Apple. "There are a couple of other sellers online and somehow I'm the 'focus' of it all," Lam says. "I think this guy is just trying to scare me into stop selling on behalf of Apple."
Meanwhile, Lam says he has no intention of shutting down his website, WhiteiPhone4Now.com
, which is still online and still taking orders. He's going to use the money to "bootstrap my first startup and help pay for college," he says: Lam plans to go to New York University next year, majoring in computer science or business.