Beware of counterfeit or 'cloned' iPhones popping up in Tampa Bay

look like iPhones, but the hardware is Android
Posted at 2:30 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 19:06:44-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- Counterfeit or "cloned" iPhones are popping up in Tampa Bay. The phones, typically made in China, look like legitimate iPhones, but the hardware is actually from an Android.

"I looks legit." Tony Baker, General Manager and Partner at CellFix, said.

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Baker say a cloned iPhone for the first time a few weeks ago. A woman came into his store asking to get the screen of a phone repaired. She purchased it from a stranger on social media for $400.

"We took the repair in. We opened it. The whole entire inside of the phone was a cloned phone." He said.

The motherboard, that runs the phone, was actually for an Android phone. Even when the phone was on, however, it looked like an iPhone.

"On an Android, you can actually corrupt the motherboard itself and install whatever you want." Baker explained. "So, essentially, people hack the phone and put whatever display you want on it... (which is how they're able to make it look like an) Apple device. Apple apps. Stuff like that."

Even though it looks like the real deal, it will not operate like it.

"They're not going to be upgradable. They're not going to be IOS compatible. So, technically, it is what it is. What you see on the phone is what you're going to have forever." Baker explained.

It turns out, owning one of the cloned phones is also against the law.

"It's illegal to possess a cloned or counterfeit phone." Cpl. Larry McKinnon, of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said.

Last week, deputies arrested 19-year-old Spencer Nicholas for possession of a cloned phone.

"He bought it very cheaply on the internet and possession of that is a felony." McKinnon said.