U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered the counterfeit smart phones Wednesday on a shipment from Taiwan, although the boxes say they were made in China.
There are no labels or markings on the phones that say iPhone or Apple, although the knockoff's interface is almost identical to the real iPhone. But on the back, the frame can be removed and the battery pulled out. On an iPhone, the user can do neither.
The fake iPhones are not the typical counterfeit product.
"We do see a lot of counterfeit clothing and especially counterfeit apparel, counterfeit watches," Customs and Border Protection Chief Ofc. Mike Rosoff said.
Customs agents declined to tell ABC7 where the fake phones were destined, saying they are still investigating the case. They did say it was one of the biggest seizures of knock-off cell phones in recent memory.
Tech expert Larry Magid does not believe the fake phones will be an issue for Apple.
"Even if they do work, Apple may find a way to disable it, for example if you tried to sync with iTunes and you succeeded, Apple could later disable the phone," he said.
The fine for bringing in counterfeit items ranges from 10 percent of the value of the goods to a fine equal to the actual value of the shipment plus prison time.