Guess Serial Numbers, Scam Apple Out of iPod Shuffles
Article by George Norman
On 23 Mar 2009
If your iPod Shuffle gets broken, do you trust a repairman to get it fixed for you? If you do, then Nicholas Woodhams, an iPod repairman from Michigan, is here to shake your confidence. He has been charged with fraud after it turned out that he scammed Apple out of 8,999 iPod Shuffle devices.

Nicholas Woodhams thought he would make a quick buck by taking advantage of the iPod Shuffle replacement service provided by Apple. What this means is that he guessed the serial number of an iPod Shuffle still under warranty, visited Apple’s online replacement site where he would state the device was broken and have Apple ship him a new one. He repeated the process over and over again, ending up with almost 9000 iPods on his hands.


Anyone who has ever asked for an iPod Shuffle replacement knows that Apple will deliver a new one, but unless you give the broken one back to them, you will be charged for the device. Nicholas Woodhams found a workaround for this problem too – he used a debit card that would reject Apple’s request for a transaction.

Once he had these devices in his possession, it was fairly easy to sell them on – he gave them away for $49 each, which amounts to a profit of over $440,000. But wait, it gets better! If a client would come in with a broken iPod Shuffle the repairman would swap the casing. The out-of-warranty device given to him by the client would get the case from a new, still in warranty device – he would then demand Apple to fix the device, free of charge of course since the iPod Shuffle seemed to be in warranty. When the device was repaired, he would once again switch the cases and present the customer with a fixed iPod – and charge that customer for the “work” he had performed.

The authorities eventually caught up to Nicholas Woodhams, and when they did, the scale of his fraud success became obvious: 7 Apple computers, two vehicles, one motorcycle, and more than $5700,000 in his bank account.

Tags: Apple, iPod Shuffle
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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