China / Society

Kids forgo fake iPhones for cheap bogus virtual tags

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-03 00:53

Zhang Xinlong spent two days begging his father for 6,000 yuan ($962) to buy the latest iPhone - to no avail.

The 16-year-old was crushed.

"Many of my friends have one, and it's really awesome to see your instant messages and micro blog posts with the tag informing others it came from an iPhone client server," says the high school student in Liaoning's provincial capital Shenyang.

But his disappointment was alleviated when he found a solution - a 5 yuan per month service that provides fake iPhone tags.

"This way, I earn a lot of face and spend only a little money," Zhang says.

Inputting "iPhone client server tag" brings up more than 120 results on, one of China's biggest online shopping platforms.

More than 100 online stores provide the service for 1 yuan a day, and about 20 stores offer packages that cost 5 yuan per month.

In Jiang Yuhai's store, more than 300 two-day service plans, priced at 1 yuan each, have been sold in the past month.

Jiang says he also provides services in which he uses his own iPhone and buyers' accounts to post micro blog messages or send virtual gifts to customers' friends. The charge ranges from 1-20 yuan depending on the time spent rendering the service.

Jiang bought more than 20 iPhones to meet demand.

He says he requires customers' account information, including their passwords, to access their accounts and send messages with "from an iPhone client server" tags.

"It's a time-consuming business, and the profit margin is not high, but I promise you that the service is safe," he says.

"I won't give your password to anyone else."

Jiang says he opened this business mainly to attract more customers to his store rather than to earn money from it. He hopes the increased traffic the service brings to his online store will also boost sales of his other services, including online game account recharging and virtual gift trading.

Xu Qiong, who also offers the service, says most of his clients are in middle and high school. Some are in primary school.

Many parents say they understand their children's desire for the service because the kids face peer pressure.

"It's like adults buying fake brand name bags with Hermes or Gucci labels," 38-year-old mother Wang Juan says.

"It's better to buy the real thing for the young kids to flaunt."

Some say such consumption is silly — even dangerous.

"Such services enable kids to cheat themselves and others," says Tao Jingjing, a middle school teacher in Shanghai.

"They learn to enjoy cheating. It's no different from fabricating academic records."

Zhang Lianjun, a lawyer with Shanghai Datong Law Firm, points out it's unlikely such services are legal or safe. Because the account passwords must be given to the buyers, customers might not be able to protect their rights if there are disputes about the accounts' use.

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