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Crime blotter: Charlotte businessmen plead guilty in iPhone thefts

The Apple Store in Oakbrook Mall in Illinois

In the latest Apple Crime Blotter, Sam Bankman-Fried may be barred from iPhone use, an Apple Store theft near Chicago, and Netflix stars were robbed of their devices.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at the world of iPhone-related crime.

Two Charlotte businessmen plead guilty in massive iPhone theft operation

Back in May of 2022, two Charlotte businessmen were indicted on federal charges that they had purchased thousands of fraudulently obtained iPhones and shipped them, in some cases internationally.

Now, the two men have pled guilty, the Justice Department announced on March 2.

Both pled guilty to one count of interstate and foreign transportation of stolen property after they "engaged in a scheme to purchase stolen and fraudulently obtained new Apple iPhones and other electronic devices, and sell and ship the devices to buyers located in other states and foreign countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong," the DOJ said.

iPhones stolen by five people from Chicago-area Apple Store

On February 13, "multiple iPhones" were reportedly stolen by "at least five people," from the Oak Park Apple Store in suburban Chicago, according to The Chicago Tribune police blotter for Oak Park.

In 2022, after a wallet was stolen from the Oakbrook Mall, it led to a police chase, but not before one of the credit cards was used for an illegal purchase at that same Apple Store.

Sam Bankman-Fried may be barred from using a smartphone

Disgraced crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried is currently under house arrest at the home of his parents in California as he awaits trial, and the government is proposing another restriction: No more smartphones.

In a court filing on March 3, prosecutors and Bankman-Fried's attorneys proposed a modification to Bankman-Fried's conditions of release, which would bar him from using "any other cellphones, tablets, computers, video games that permit chat and voice communication, or smart devices with internet capability."

The former CEO of FTX would be allowed to use "a flip phone or other non-smartphone with either no internet capabilities or internet capabilities disabled," provided the court be provided the device's serial number, IMEI number, IMSI number, MAC address, and SIM number.

His parents would also be required to submit the serial numbers and MAC addresses of their iPhones, and Macs, per the filing. And Bankman-Fried would be allowed to use certain applications, such as Zoom, to confer with counsel and prepare for his defense.

Bankman-Fried, who faces more than a dozen counts that include conspiracy, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, had made news in February when he was found to have watched the Super Bowl using a VPN, in violation of his bail conditions.

Back in November, Apple TV+ was reportedly near a deal to for the movie rights to Michael Lewis' in-progress book about the fall of FTX. Should that happen, Bankman-Fried would likely become the first-ever subject of an Apple TV+ film to be legally barred from using an iPhone.

Shawn Kemp shooting incident involved stolen iPhone, attorney says

Following the news that retired NBA star Shawn Kemp had been arrested in a shooting incident in Tacoma, Wash., Kemp's attorney is stating that the shooting was in self-defense, following the theft of Kemp's iPhone.

In a statement from the attorney, W. Scott Boatman, the iPhone was stolen when Kemp's car was broken into, and he followed the signal to a car in a shopping mall parking lot.

Shots were fired from the car, and Kemp returned fire. After the car drove away, police arrived and arrested Kemp.

Fox 13 in Tacoma reported that Kemp had been released from jail, and prosecutors are saying that he will not be charged.

Member of Twin Cities phone theft ring sentenced

After 12 people were charged under Minnesota racketeering statutes in October 2022 for their parts in a cell phone theft ring in Minneapolis, one of them has now been sentenced.

KARE 11 reports a 26-year-old St. Paul man was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for his part in the "highly-organized cell phone robbery ring," the one led by a Chinese national known as "iPhone Man."

The scheme had targeted "intoxicated people" in downtown Minneapolis and was in operation for over a year. Thieves would approach the victim in a friendly way and sometimes ask for the victim's phone in order to add them on social media platforms.

Then they would run off, with the phone unlocked and access granted to banking and financial apps.

Per the report, the thefts resulted in losses of over $300,000 in cash, cryptocurrency, and the value of the lost devices.

Cast of Netflix's Bling Empire: New York robbed of iPad, clothes in Paris

Three cast members of the Netflix reality series Bling Empire: New York were burglarized while in Paris on March 2.

According to CBS News, Lynn Ban, Jeff Kain, and Blake Abbie were in Paris for Fashion Week, when their apartment safe was taken. Among the items stolen were passports, documents, an iPad, and luxury clothes. However, most of the items were recovered and the suspects were detained.

Suspect sought after robbery at Apple Jump+in Canada

Police in Kingston, Ontario, are searching for a suspect who they say robbed an Apple Jump+ store in the area. The Whig explains the man took an item without paying, and when confronted, "the suspect threatened violence and fled the premises."

$4,500 of iPhones stolen from T-Mobile store

Police in Champaign, Ill., are looking for three suspects who they say stole five iPhones from a T-Mobile store back in December.

According to WCIA, a woman in the group asked to buy five iPhones, while a male member of the crew distracted an employee. The third person held the door open for the other two.

The iPhones, which an employee had removed from a locked cabinet, are worth $4,500.

New Jersey man caught with cocaine after stealing MacBook and AirPods

A man from Bayonne, N.J., was arrested in February after he was caught stealing AirPods and credit cards from a car. Hudson County View reports the man was also caught with cocaine and a stun gun. He was caught after the person who owned the items tracked them.

The man was charged with several crimes, including receiving stolen property, certain persons not to possess weapons, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), and possession of narcotic paraphernalia.