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  • 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.

    Source: TiPB
    This article was originally published in forum thread: White iPhone 4 Kits Bring Teen $130K & Threats started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 97 Comments
    1. whookids's Avatar
      whookids -
      go buy this kit...it will make your iphone bling...
      i have an iphone 3gs white, but my case it's plastic
      apple didn't release the white version of iphone 4 because of the light...it ruins your photos...it goes through the glass and your photos have a white circle or something...
      if someone that bought this kit comes here and says it doesn't do that, then you have the wrong back cover
      apple would have released this white version by now
    1. CynicalDriver's Avatar
      CynicalDriver -
      And?

      The kid is making money. If people are willing to pay what he asks, and he doesn't misrepresent the product, then he made good money. Very smart kid, props to him.

      He should definitely go into business, knowing Mandarin will only help. He obviously knows how to think business already.
    1. djnikk's Avatar
      djnikk -
      Good luck Man, I have my word of support!
    1. candypaint's Avatar
      candypaint -
      Quote Originally Posted by unison999 View Post
      They may be legit parts, but they are stolen.
      Apple owns all original parts in China, if he is getting original parts and Apple is not the one who sells it = stolen parts. Can this kid prove that it is legally purchased? I highly doubt it.
      I agree.
    1. staterunner180's Avatar
      staterunner180 -
      Why does Apple care if people want to spend their money on an iPhone that isn't Apple quality, and can never be taken into an Apple store since the warranty is voided upon the opening of the device?

      And HOW is this considered STEALING? I've heard of ludicrous accusations before, but this one takes the cake.
    1. zim_from_IPH's Avatar
      zim_from_IPH -
      They contradict themselves on the site they say one minute that they are OEM then non-OEM the next
    1. billmilo's Avatar
      billmilo -
      Gizmodo?
    1. \m/ibnziceman\m/'s Avatar
      \m/ibnziceman\m/ -
      Quote Originally Posted by ert6ic View Post
      p.s: the full kit properly cost him less than shipping he charged, LOL
      +1
    1. xerray's Avatar
      xerray -
      Pretty damn exspensive for the whole white kit if you ask me, $279.00 for the whole thing, $169.00 for front + home button and $135.00 for just the back panel.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by xerray View Post
      Pretty damn exspensive for the whole white kit if you ask me, $279.00 for the whole thing, $169.00 for front + home button and $135.00 for just the back panel.
      Everyday he's hustlin'..hustlin..hustl-hustlin'..hustlin'..........

      Don't worry. I'm sure he'll be assassinated by Apple's ninjas in less than 48 hours.

      Anybody retarded enough to actually pay for this kit and more specifically $135 for a back panel when a brand new Apple black replacement back panel costs $30 deserves to squander away their money on a COLOR CHANGE for their phone.
    1. ronfin44's Avatar
      ronfin44 -
      Way too expensive for this kit, and if these parts are actually Apple parts and were obtained illegally, I hope it costs this kid twice as much in legal fees than what he has made.

      To all of you stupid-*** people that condone stealing and think just because it's "Apple" it's "OK" to rip them off, I hope someone steals your iPhone, car, or whatever else you value just so the hypocrite in you gets exposed as you cry about it to 9-1-1. Idiots.
    1. Titan3636's Avatar
      Titan3636 -
      I want just the white home button. Wonder if I can get one. Jazz mine up a little. That would even be more rare than the white one when they come out.
    1. cheet0's Avatar
      cheet0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by staterunner180 View Post
      Why does Apple care if people want to spend their money on an iPhone that isn't Apple quality, and can never be taken into an Apple store since the warranty is voided upon the opening of the device?
      Because if someone buys it after the official white ones are released and doesn't know it isn't an official Apple quality they could assume Apple makes piss poor products. This based on the lack of quality mentioned in the above posts.
    1. Thenextkiller's Avatar
      Thenextkiller -
      Anyone know that homescreen wallpaper
    1. emtee25's Avatar
      emtee25 -
      Good profit as my company can get kit for $128 each plus shipping to the uk
    1. raduga's Avatar
      raduga -
      Quote Originally Posted by ronfin44 View Post
      Way too expensive for this kit, and if these parts are actually Apple parts and were obtained illegally, I hope it costs this kid twice as much in legal fees than what he has made.

      To all of you stupid-*** people that condone stealing and think just because it's "Apple" it's "OK" to rip them off, I hope someone steals your iPhone, car, or whatever else you value just so the hypocrite in you gets exposed as you cry about it to 9-1-1. Idiots.
      If the seller he's buying parts from got them when they 'fell of the back of a truck' in Shenzhen, its theft, plain enough.
      _____

      If the seller then turned around and told this kid what he wanted to hear: that the parts were legitimately produced by Foxconn (or someone else), purchased from the manufacturer at a nice [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanxi"].[/ame] discount, the poor kid might have no idea they were stolen property. Its arguable that he could have/should have figured it out by now, but unless he gets confirmation from Foxconn that the deal was fishy- he won't really know either way.
      _____

      It's also possible that the parts are grey-market; that some manager-type guy from "iPod City" resold the parts to the merchant who shipped them to the US - without breaking Chinese law, but in breach of the agreement Foxconn has with Apple.

      I can't tell for sure, but I suspect its the third option, maybe the second. If our American friend is selling parts that were transferred out of Foxconn *illegally*, then he's breaking the law too. (Unintentionally, but you can still get nailed).
      But if our American friend is selling parts that were transferred out of Foxconn under shady-but-commonplace circumstances- if its not something you could get imprisoned, fined or shot for doing in China, he's not a thief.

      Apple can still crush him to bits with their force of law, and strong allegations he's fencing stolen property- not because they actually believe he's a thief or a fence, but because they want him to divulge his sources who may-or-may-not-be-thieves, but who definitely will be in serious trouble shortly.

      Its tricky.
      If its a fraud, and he was in on the fraud from the beginning, he's a bad guy.

      If its a fraud, and he was an "innocent victim" shame on him, but poor him

      If its not a fraud, but standard corrupt business practice in the provinces, o well. Innocent enough, but failed to grasp that guanxi doesn't translate well into the American marketplace....

      EDIT:
      If anyone else got the PM, first_dominator fails to grasp that spam doesn't translate well into MMi....
    1. jokerg7's Avatar
      jokerg7 -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2a View Post
      why isn't anyone mentioning the fact that you have to be completely out of your mind to pay $300+ to have your iPhone converted to white.
      Thank you! Finally someone with some brains!
    1. eyeRobot's Avatar
      eyeRobot -
      Possession of stolen goods is not theft. But it is a crime if he knew the goods were stolen and he could get prosecuted.

      If he didn't know the goods were stolen, then the parts will still get seized and returned to the owner (presumably Foxconn).

      If he continues to sell the goods now then it's getting more serious for him. If you buy one, then you are in possession of stolen goods too!

      Either way, it looks like he's going to lose the stock he hasn't already sold.
    1. JacquesChirac's Avatar
      JacquesChirac -
      the tricky legal issue is that if he's selling the backs with the apple logo, he's gotta give royalties to apple and needs approval from apple. otherwise, he can legally do whatever he wants
    1. Tyronal's Avatar
      Tyronal -
      This all sounds very fishy. The guy in an interview admits buying these mod kits from an EX Foxconn employee who he found from a spam email he received. Yeah, really lucky to make $130,000 from a spammer . The word on the streets say the PI is working for Foxconn trying to track down the original supplier, by shaking down this kid. The connection between the two seems rather curious. I believe there's more to this than meets the eye. The fact these items haven't been licensed for sale leaves this kid in hot water. Hope he has a good lawyer. Honestly, who would want a white iPhone anyway.