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Tigard, Oregon police have cracked an organized crime ring that was using stolen gift cards worth three-quarters of a million dollars to buy iPhones which were headed for the Hong Kong black market. Police say organized retail theft has become one of the largest crimes around.

Oregon Police Seize Over 470 iPhones in iPhone Black Market Crime Ring Crackdown

Cult of Mac:

Tigard Detective T.J. Hahn told the local KOIN 6 News that organized retail theft has become a bigger crime than even drug sales.

“This kind of activity makes millions of millions of dollars, into the billions,” he said.

Members of the Tigard commercial crimes unit were at the area’s Washington Square mall, when they noticed a man buying iPhones at the local Apple Store using an unusually large stack of gift cards. They followed the subject to his car, where they discovered it was packed full of Apple Store shopping bags. KOIN 6 says detectives then went to a nearby FedEx and found a number of boxes filled with iPhones the suspects had previously dropped off for shipment to Hong Kong.

The suspect was detained by the police, who seized over 470 iPhones with a market value of more than $290,000, along with $585,000 worth of gift cards. The man and his accomplice are said to be cooperating with the investigation. The gift cards are directly linked to counterfeit credit cards that originated in Southern California, officials said.