Wednesday, April 24

Ponzi Scheme: The Multi-Million iPhone Scam In Iran

Edited by Hiba Anvar

Though iPhone being one of the most popular mobile phones in Iran, the country has banned the sale of its product in the country since 2022. The Islamic Republic also stopped the registering iPhone 14 and the latest models stating it to be an unnecessary item that drains the country’s foreign currency.

However, the ban has resulted in an increase in the smuggling of the new iPhone 14 and 15 handsets into the local markets of Tehran. The ban has resulted in chaos across the market. The latest among them is the Ponzi scheme which offered cheap iPhones at a hugely discounted price of 200 million rials ($360) or less, reports Al Jazeera.

Due to the ban, the prices of the iPhone sets in the market are several times higher than the international markets. An Iran-registered base-level iPhone 13 Pro that Apple has not sold since newer handsets came out, was sold at an amount of 1.3 billion rials which is about $2,300 at the current market rate. But the same phone set could be purchased for just $800 or less in markets outside Iran.

Ponzi scheme:

Making use of this current situation, scammers registered under the name Kourosh Company used it as a golden opportunity to rob the customers. The company which is registered as Iran’s “largest phone repair company” told customers that it would sell iPhones at huge discounts and will be delivered within weeks.
The company was run by a 27-year-old, Amirhossein Sharifian. He has fled to neighboring Turkey as per the report of state-linked Tasnim news website on Saturday.

Apart from Sharifian, many are wanted and so far, at least one has been arrested following the scam.

It is unclear whether the company has delivered any mobile phones to the customer. It is unclear how the company has managed to grow so fast. As per the report, the company has dodged many mandatory military conscriptions which might have made them unable to register a company in the first place.

The company was also largely advertised by using celebrities and football players. The personalized messages from celebrities encouraged people to snatch a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Why iPhones are sold at high prices in Iran?

The main reason for the huge market price is due to considerable registration fees which go to the government. In addition to that, Apple does not have official vendors in Iran because of the country’s isolation from global markets due to harsh US sanctions.
Local vendors too change the prices of the mobile phones regularly citing shifting foreign currency rates.