China iPhone Craze Breeds Scalpers

Apple (AAPL) customers who were hoping the company’s recently expanded presence in China would mean easier access to officially sold iPhone 4s have been disappointed, but a run on the devices has been kind to at least one group: gadget scalpers.

Apple opened two new stores—one in Beijing and another in Shanghai—last Friday, doubling the number of Apple retail outlets in China. The company also officially launched the iPhone 4 on the same day, marking the fastest roll-out of a new Apple device in China.

But as of Thursday morning, Apple’s flagship store in Beijing’s Sanlitun Village mall was sold out of the new smartphone. As a result, scalpers, who bought up iPhone 4s earlier in the week, are now lurking outside the store ready to pounce on anyone who walks out without merchandise.

“Want to buy an iPhone 4?” they say. “Come with us.”

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