Apple factory manager indicted for stealing thousands of iPhones

An ex-senior manager at Apple supplier Foxconn is reportedly facing charges for stealing and reselling thousands of iPhones.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read
CNET staff

It's never a good idea to steal from work, even when the payload is thousands of iPhones. One now-ex senior manager at Apple supplier Foxconn has reportedly been indicted for stealing and reselling 5,700 iPhones from the Foxconn factory.

Foxconn is a major tech manufacturer that produces electronics for the likes of Apple, Sony and HP. Its factories have received a lot of negative publicity in the past for unfair treatment of workers and poor factory conditions. It famously installed suicide nets on the sides of its buildings.

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The manager, identified by his surname Tsai, faces a maximum of ten years in jail for stealing $1.56 million worth of iPhone 5 and 5S phones from 2013 to 2014, said Taiwanese prosecutors on Friday, according to Agence France-Presse. Tsai worked as a manager in the testing department at Foxconn's factory in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, prosecutors said. After testing the iPhones he was supposed to scrap the devices, but instead he and a group of employees reportedly smuggled the iPhones out of the factory. He and his accomplices are then said to have sold the test phones to make almost TWD$50 million, or about $1,567,865, £1,239,705 and AU$2,103,529.

It wasn't until an internal audit that Foxconn caught on to Tsai's actions, said AFP, and reported him to the authorities.

Although Apple isn't directly responsible for Foxconn's actions, the Silicon Valley tech titan is coming under pressure to step away from the manufacturer. President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly offered Apple incentives to produce its devices in the US, and some reports suggest that Apple is considering doing so. Losing Apple's business could deal Foxconn a major blow.

Apple didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.