Iran Citizens Push Back Against Iphone Ban

The owner of an iPhone 13 retail store in Kourosh, Iran, allegedly ran a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme in 2021 and enticed people with the promise of a free phone.

The alleged scam is only one part of the larger dispute surrounding the Kourosh Company, which is emblematic of Iran’s economic problems resulting from decades of Western sanctions. The Islamic Republic’s prohibition on Apple’s iPhone 14 and 15 sparked a secondary market for the older models, driving up costs as people tried to convert their falling Iranian currency into something more tangible.

The import of iPhones has always been a bone of contention; according to official estimates, Iran’s mobile phone import industry was worth $4.4 billion before the ban, with iPhones accounting for around a third of that market. Compared to the exchange office rate of 580,000 rials to $1, the government-set exchange rates that private enterprises may use when importing mobile phones are far lower, making the industry considerably more lucrative.

Despite years of hostilities with the West and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s denunciation of American luxury products, people continue to desire the phones and the status they represent. The pricing range for iPhone 13s is wide, from $330 for refurbished handsets to $1,020 for brand-new ones.

After one month, a visitor’s iPhone 14 or 15 won’t work on Iran-controlled mobile networks.

Some Iranian businesses have taken advantage of the country’s economic woes by running schemes like Kourosh, which offered iPhone 13s for as little as $360 (or the equivalent) with a three-week wait before delivery. Online commercials for the company featured Iranian celebrities, which increased the exposure even further.

Although the corporation has not acknowledged the report, the reformist publication Shargh estimated it made $36 million in less than a year. Then, the supply of iPhones ran out.

According to Iranian police, Amirhossein Sharifian, the 27-year-old CEO of Kourosh and the suspected scheme mastermind, fled Iran in September and has not been seen since despite receiving millions of dollars in payments.