Accessories made by Apple aren’t exactly cheap, but there are several third-party makers that offer great products for more affordable prices. However, there’s also a whole market of counterfeit accessories — and Apple is now doing everything it can to take these products down.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is aware that there are several vendors using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to sell counterfeit Apple-branded accessories. The most popular are Chinese copies of products like AirPods, Lightning cables, iPhone batteries, and power adapters.
While these accessories may seem attractive to customers as they cost up to 10 times less than those sold by Apple, counterfeit products can put the user at risk. This is what happened recently to Andrea Stroppa, a cybersecurity researcher. Stroppa borrowed an iPhone charger from a friend, but then the unexpected happened: the charger exploded while connected to power. Of course, it was a counterfeit charger.
Stories like the one told by Stroppa are far from uncommon when it comes to accessories purchased online through unknown websites. The report points out that the counterfeit accessories business runs millions of dollars across the US and Europe. While Facebook says that selling counterfeit products on its social networks violates the company’s policies, researchers argue that Facebook fails to ban these sellers.
“Our study aims at exposing Instagram’s difficulties, or unwillingness, to properly address its long-standing counterfeit market and also to highlight the many dangers of such illicit business for Apple and consumers alike,” the researchers said. Facebook is “guilty of failing to adequately invest and protect American businesses and citizens around the world who use its platform.”
A research from Ghost Data Team obtained by Bloomberg monitored 163 sellers of counterfeit Apple accessories on Instagram over the past month. The top-selling product from these sellers were AirPods Pro replicas, followed by MagSafe Chargers. While these products cost $249 and $39 respectively at Apple, a store on Instagram was selling the counterfeit versions for $25 and $5.50.
The Instagram accounts in the study uploaded 50,000 sales posts in the last year, which garnered about 600,000 likes and comments. The report includes bills posted by vendors of the counterfeit merchandise, including one seller who grossed $140,000 in a single day of online sales through his HSBC personal banking account, Ghost Data reports.
Not everyone knows they’re buying a counterfeit product or understands the risks of doing so. An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company is concerned about the risk these accessories could bring to users. The company confirmed that it has a team dedicated to identifying and taking down these sellers and e-commerce sites around the world that sell counterfeit Apple accessories.
“We have a dedicated team of experts constantly working with law enforcement, merchants, social media companies and e-commerce sites around the world to remove counterfeit products from the market. In the last year we have sought the removal of over 1 million listings for counterfeit and fake Apple products from online marketplaces, including Facebook and Instagram.”
The full report can be found on Bloomberg’s websit, and it’s definitely worth a read.