Smartphones & Tablets | May 17, 2023
Cheap can end up being expensive. Searching for the best prices when repairing a phone is one of the options that most users consider when fixing their smartphone. However, in the end, it can be even worse. For example, the latest move by criminals has resulted in more than 14,000 parts seized by the National Police that were copies of original brands such as Apple, Samsung, or Huawei.
Repairing a phone is usually not cheap, and in this case, the criminals took advantage of this fact. The investigation began on January 16, 2020, but has been kept under secrecy since the case was reopened in March 2022. It all started when the police became aware that fake components were being used to repair smartphones. Furthermore, these were already in circulation through specialized mobile repair shops.
The National Police operation has ended with up to 47 people arrested for their alleged involvement in this case. Among the detainees are officials from one of the leading companies in the phone repair sector in Spain, which had various low-cost franchises throughout the country, as well as the owner of the company specializing in the sale of replacement components to repair smartphones.
Among the more than 14,000 pirate mobile parts seized by the police are screens, cameras, batteries, and other components such as shells. All of them have an identical appearance to the real components but without the quality of the original product. Therefore, during the investigation, the agents were able to observe slight changes in the designs of the parts to reproduce the originals without authorization from the trademark registries.
However, although the investigation began in early 2020, the procedure was provisionally archived in March 2021, as it had the approval of the prosecutor in charge. However, a year later, the National Police presented a new report in which the existence of fake components for smartphones was ensured, which led to the reopening of the case, declaring it a secret investigation.
Under the name ‘Rotten’, the police initiated this investigation, creating a joint working team with agents from the Economic Crimes Group II and the Asset Investigation and Location (IPLA) Group. In this way, the agents began to carry out inspections in the 35 locations distributed throughout Spain: in all the provinces of Andalusia, Murcia, Valladolid, Alcoy, Sestao, Gijón or Zaragoza.
On the part of the defense of the companies under investigation, they claim that these are reconditioned components from original phones and not counterfeit parts. In any case, a preventive seizure of bank accounts and properties has been carried out: a block of 150,000 euros in bank accounts, two properties, and a vehicle. In addition, more than 14,000 euros in cash have also been seized. All these facts are now in the hands of the Court of Instruction number 6 in Malaga.