The most recent fake store in Kunming, China was stumbled upon by a 27-year-old American blogger living in the city, the capital of China's mountainous southwestern Yunnan province, complete with the white Apple logo, wooden tables and cheery staff claiming they work for the iPhone maker, while the Chinese government has launched an investigation into fake Apple stores that have popped up around the southwestern city of Kunming.
The store looked every bit like Apple Stores found all over the world, according to the blogger, who goes by the name "BirdAbroad." Yet, Apple has no stores in Kunming and only 13 authorized resellers in the city, who are not allowed to call themselves Apple Stores or claim to work for Apple.
But as that blog post gained international attention, the Chinese authorities got involved.
The Associated Press reports that Chinese authorities found five fake Apple stores in Kunming and shut down two of them. The AP adds:
"Officials couldn't do anything about the other three stores — which prominently displayed Apple signs and logos — because they did not find any fake Apple products for sale, according to a report by a local newspaper posted on the Kunming city government's website. After the blog appeared on Wednesday, the Kunming Trade and Industry Bureau inspected more than 300 electronics stores in Kunming..."
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The stores had sections devoted to different Apple products, similar to real Apple stores, and large posters advertising the iPhone 4 and MacBook Pro, according to photos on the blog. "This was a total Apple store rip-off. A beautiful rip-off - a brilliant one - the best rip-off store we had ever seen," the anonymous blogger posted on Wednesday.
"Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple," the blogger added.
It was unclear whether the store was selling fake or genuine Apple products - there are countless unauthorized resellers of Apple and other brands' electronic products throughout the country who sell the real thing but obtain their goods by buying them overseas and smuggling them into the country to skip tax.
Apple declined to comment. The Cupertino, California-based firm reported forecast-smashing results on Tuesday, helped by massive growth in Asia, and China in particular.
The store featured in BirdAboard's blog post is still open.