Last week, we commented on a curious case (or cases, better said) of fraud involving repair orders for stolen iPhones in the China and in other countries. To get around the situation, Apple has adopted several measures ranging from changing its exchange policy to using a special dye to check for false components of gadgets.
In China, the situation reached a level where fraudsters obtained Apple customer records, including the serial number of their devices, to identify iPhones that had already been sold. In some cases, incorrect serial numbers would be written on the back of the devices.
To combat the use of stolen records, Apple developed an internal filtering method called “Zombie Check”, which checks whether the serial numbers of iPhones taken for repair are associated with those devices from iCloud data. As if the level of fraud was not enough, the bandits were in the habit of using lists (obtained illegally) with serial numbers of devices used in the country.
According to an internal document from Maçã, obtained by MacRumors, the tool – hitherto unknown – was initially used in China; but the company started distributing it from February this year to some Apple Authorized Service Centers (CSAA) in other countries, where various types of repairs are carried out on gadgets.
To use the “Zombie Check”, Apple technicians must connect the tool from the Lightning cable to the iPhone and the USB cable on a Mac that must be running macOS OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5 or later. That done, just start the application “Serial Number Reader” to obtain the serial numbers – the software also shows whether the phone has been voluntarily damaged so that it cannot be turned on by technicians.
But, what about seriously damaged iPhones? The tool can recover serial numbers of iPhones that have suffered various physical and software damage, including liquid damage. In the latter case, it is important that the liquid is no longer leaking from the device.
Apple said in the internal document that “validating the serial number guarantees the right to repair and the eligibility of the service associated with a serialized device”. She added that this validation “guarantees Apple to offer warranty services only on original Apple products”, of course.
According to MacRumors, Apple’s efforts seem to be working. In the company’s 10-K annual report, sent to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Apple’s guaranteed expenditures dropped from $ 4.66 billion to $ 4.32 billion – and all of that in less than a year, while the tool is used only by certain authorized stores and centers.