You’ve just stolen thousands of iPhones, worth several million dollars, from a Belgian warehouse by an ingenious plan involving cutting through the ceiling: what are you going to do next? Let me tell you what you’re not going to do: go to Disney World. Far more likely, you’re going to try to offload those phones for some profit. And what better place to do so than the Russian black market?
According to reports from Russian blogs collected by Cult of Mac, the stolen iPhones are making their way to Russia in batches of 100 to be sold for cold, hard cash to wholesalers—and then on to customers. Why Russia? Well, aside from the country’s active black market, there’s also the fact that the stolen units were of the iPhone 3GS persuasion—a model that’s still not available in Russia (and many other countries around the world).
However, it’s not all roses and borscht for the prospective customers. Interpol is already involved in the investigation and has a list of the phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) numbers, which they can pass on to carriers who can, in turn, deny service to those phones. Black marketeers, not exactly bastions of honesty themselves, aren’t likely to share this information with their less-informed customers, potentially leaving them in the lurch.
While some have reported that the stolen phones can be identified by model numbers ending in “NF,” it seems that this may in fact cover any iPhone sold in France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg, including legitimate ones. Our advice: don’t buy a shady iPhone 3GS on the streetes of Moscow.