Here’s How Apple Is Cracking Down On Fake Component Repairs Of iPhones By Unauthorized Third-Parties
It is definitely not unusual for large companies to produce internal measures and proprietary technology designed to make efficiencies within its business.
It’s being reported that Apple Inc. has done exactly this in order to reduce mass repair fraud by operating a ‘Zombie Check‘ system to crack down on stolen serial numbers in its devices.
It seems that sophisticated repair fraud activities have been a huge problem for Apple in the past. Groups around the world have been going to extreme lengths to defraud Apple out of money by swapping official components out of devices and replacing them with fake electricals that are then returned to Apple for replacements devices which are later sold through secondary sales channels. Apple was under the impression that it was replacing an official – albeit broken – iPhone, which therefore put the company seriously out of pocket.
After becoming aware of the scam, Tim Cook’s company has put processes in place to reduce the fraudulent activities in the repair world, including the use of something it calls a ‘Zombie Check’ designed to pull the device’s serial number directly from the internal logic board to ensure that it matches the number etched on the device.
This is a necessary process as some scammers have been using fake serial numbers belonging to iPhones which have already been purchased in China, and with the device out of action, Apple was previously unable to ascertain if the serial number provided was, in fact, the genuine identifier.
The hardware that is used to perform this ‘Zombie Check’ is called a Serial Number Reader and is basically a small and relatively simple-looking dongle with a Lightning connector that can be plugged into iPhone 6 or newer. When connected, it goes to work by pulling the serial number directly from the logic board, therefore providing the Apple representative – or a rep from an official Apple reseller – with the actual serial number of that device rather than a potentially fraudulent one.
A number of people familiar with the situation have suggested that this doesn’t always work but it’s definitely managed to reduce the criminal activity. This is clearly just one initiative that Apple has taken to try and reduce this attempted fraud, mostly carried out by unauthorized third-party repair shops, and it definitely appears to be working for the business.