WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Two people have been arrested in Sacramento for leading a nationwide scheme that involved purchasing a large number of smart phones that were under contract and reselling them in Hong Kong.
The two were making nearly $4 million off the sale of the stolen phones.
According to a press release from Attorney General Kamala D. Harris’ office, Shou Lin Wen, 39, and Yuting Tan, 27, allegedly went to homeless shelters where they paid people to buy multiple cell phones at a discounted rate from wireless carriers. The buyers handed the phones over to middlemen who then sent them to Wen and Tan who allegedly shipped them overseas. During its eight months of operation, Wen and Tan’s business self-reported sales of $3,948,485.
It’s alleged that the people who bought the phones never intended to pay the phones’ contracts, which constitutes theft under state law. It also means the phones became stolen property.
On March 6, special agents with the eCrime Unit conducted an undercover operation in West Sacramento during which they sold Wen and Tan 163 phones for $60,300. They arrested the two and booked them into the Sacramento County Main Jail on eight felony counts of money laundering, grand theft, and possession of stolen property. Bail for the two is set at $1 million each.
Investigators intercepted four of the 110 packages allegedly sent by Wen and Tan to Hong Kong. The 412 phones in the packages were tracked to fake buyers as far away as North Carolina.
iPhones can go for as much as $2,000 each in Hong Kong.
Read the criminal complaint.